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The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

by Kenneth Pomeranz
The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

by Kenneth Pomeranz

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Overview

The Great Divergence sheds light on one of the great questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe? Historian Kenneth Pomeranz shows that as recently as 1750, life expectancy, consumption, and product and factor markets were comparable in Europe and East Asia. Moreover, key regions in China and Japan were no worse off ecologically than those in Western Europe, with each region facing corresponding shortages of land-intensive products. Pomeranz's comparative lens reveals the two critical factors resulting in Europe's nineteenth-century divergence-the fortunate location of coal and access to trade with the New World. As East Asia's economy stagnated, Europe narrowly escaped the same fate largely due to favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas. This Princeton Classics edition includes a preface from the author and makes a powerful historical work available to new readers.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691217185
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/13/2021
Series: Princeton Classics , #118
Pages: 404
Sales rank: 404,568
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kenneth Pomeranz is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of The Making of a Hinterland: State, Society, and Economy in Inland North China, 1853-1937, which won the John King Fairbank Prize from the American Historical Association, and coauthor (with Steven Topik) of The World that Trade Created.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction

Comparisons, Connections, and Narratives of European Economic Development 3

Variations on the Europe-Centered Story: Demography, Ecology, and Accumulation 10

Other Europe-Centered Stories: Markets, Firms, and Institutions 14

Problems with the Europe-Centered Stories 16

Building a More Inclusive Story 17

Comparisons, Connections, and the Structure of the Argument 24

A Note on Geographic Coverage 25

Part 1 A World of Surprising Resemblances 29

1 Europe before Asia? Population, Capital Accumulation, and Technology in Explanations of European Development 31

Agriculture, Transport, and Livestock Capital 32

Living Longer? Living Better? 36

Birthrates 40

Accumulation? 42

What about Technology? 43

2 Market Economies in Europe and Asia 69

Land Markets and Restrictions on Land Use in China and Western Europe 70

Labor Systems 80

Migration, Markets, and Institutions 82

Markets for Farm Products 86

Rural Industry and Sideline Activities 86

Family Labor in China and Europe: "Involution " and the "Industrious Revolution" 91

Conclusion to Part 1: Multiple Cores and Shared Constraints in the Early Modern World Economy 107

Part 2 From New Ethos to New Economy? Consumption, Investment, and Capitalism 109

Introduction 111

3 Luxury Consumption and the Rise of Capitalism 114

More and Less Ordinary Luxuries 114

Everyday Luxuries and Popular Consumption in Early Modern Europe and Asia 116

Consumer Durables and the " Objectification" of Luxury 127

Exotic Goods and the Velocity of Fashion: Global Conjuncture and the Appearance of Culturally Based Economic Difference 152

Luxury Demand, Social Systems, and Capitalist Firms 162

4 Visible Hands: Firm Structure, Sociopolitical Structure, and "Capitalism" in Europe and Asia 166

Overseas Extraction and Capital Accumulation: The Williams Thesis Revisited 186

The Importance of the Obvious: Luxury Demand, Capitalism, and New World Colonization 189

Interstate Competition, Violence, and State Systems: How They Didn't Matter and How They Did 194

Conclusion to Part 2: The Significance of Similarities-and of Differences 206

Part 3 Beyond Smith and Malthus: From Ecological Constraints to Sustained Industrial Growth 209

5 Shared Constraints: Ecological Strain in Western Europe and East Asia 211

Deforestation and Soil Depletion in China: Some Comparisons with Europe 225

Trading for Resources with Old World Peripheries: Common Patterns and Limits of Smithian Solutions to Quasi-Malthusian Problems 242

6 Abolishing the Land Constraint: The Americas as a New Kind of Periphery 264

Another New World, Another Windfall: Precious Metals 269

Some Measurements of Ecological Relief: Britain in the Age of the Industrial Revolution 274

Comparisons and Calculations: What Do the Numbers Mean? 279

Beyond and Besides the Numbers 281

Into an Industrial World 283

Last Comparisons: Labor Intensity, Resources, and Industrial "Growing Up" 285

Appendix A Comparative Estimates of Land Transport Capacity per Person: Germany and North India, circa 1800 301

Appendix B Estimates of Manure Applied to North China and European Farms in the Late Eighteenth Century, and a Comparison of Resulting Nitrogen Fluxes 303

Appendix C Forest Cover and Fuel-Supply Estimates for France, Lingnan, and a Portion of North China, 1700-1850 307

Appendix D Estimates of "Ghost Acreage" Provided by Various Imports to Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Britain 313

Appendix E Estimates of Earning Power of Rural Textile Workers in the Lower Yangzi Region of China, 1750-1840 316

Appendix F Estimates of Cotton and Silk Production, Lower Yangzi and China as a Whole, 1750 and Later-With Comparisons to United Kingdom, France, and Germany 327

Bibliography 339

Index 373

What People are Saying About This

Goldstone

This is an outstanding book, painstaking and devastating in its attack on received wisdom, supported by a wealth of solid evidence and elegant argument.
Jack A. Goldstone, University of California, Davis

Deirdre McClosky

Pomeranz uses that European invention—economics—to overturn Eurocentrism, establishing beyond cavil a New Fact in our world. Never again will Europeans imagine they stood alone in the doorway of economic growth. Pomeranz and his colleagues in the new sinology have reintroduced the Central Kingdom and its stunning historical sources, and Pomeranz has written the one essential book.
Deirdre McClosky, University of Iowa

Joel Mokyr

A truly magisterial effort based on an immense knowledge of the field, a vast amount of reading, and on close and careful analysis, informed by both social science and history.
Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

From the Publisher

"Pomeranz uses that European invention—economics—to overturn Eurocentrism, establishing beyond cavil a New Fact in our world. Never again will Europeans imagine they stood alone in the doorway of economic growth. Pomeranz and his colleagues in the new sinology have reintroduced the Central Kingdom and its stunning historical sources, and Pomeranz has written the one essential book."—Deirdre McClosky, University of Iowa

"Pomeranz uses a mixture of institutional forces and technological/geological luck to explain how an economic and ecological 'tie game' suddenly became a victory for western Europe over China. He combines global imagination with the scientific detail needed to make his points hold firm. The Great Divergence should command widespread respect."—Peter H. Lindert, University of California, Davis

"A truly magisterial effort based on an immense knowledge of the field, a vast amount of reading, and on close and careful analysis, informed by both social science and history."—Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

"This is an outstanding book, painstaking and devastating in its attack on received wisdom, supported by a wealth of solid evidence and elegant argument."—Jack A. Goldstone, University of California, Davis

Lindert

Pomeranz uses a mixture of institutional forces and technological/geological luck to explain how an economic and ecological 'tie game' suddenly became a victory for western Europe over China. He combines global imagination with the scientific detail needed to make his points hold firm. The Great Divergence should command widespread respect.
Peter H. Lindert, University of California, Davis

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