De Long on Pomeranz

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Dave Long (
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 22:41:16 PDT

De Long reviewed Pomeranz's _The Great Divergence_ recently on
EH.RES, and at <>.

The question put forth is why European countries quickly
industrialized, when the rest of Eurasia did not.

Diamond presented a unification argument: that China, due to lack of
geographic barriers, has been far more politically centralized than
Europe, and hence risk-averse political choices could stunt growth.

I'm not sure that explains India, though: my impression is that the
British were able to expand throughout the subcontinent so easily
because it was as fragmented as Europe. One would think that the
British would have even been a great argument for industrialization;
the superiority of European troops should have spurred the native
princes to an industrialization program such as the Prussian.

Perhaps the answer lies more in an argument which Stewart has made
here on FoRK: labor saving is a process which feeds upon itself.
If Europe was not in conditions as Malthusian as China or India (and
the Black Death and a few religious wars may have gone a long way
towards keeping it out of them), then there would have been an
impetus to find ways to increase labor productivity, but such
increase not only threw people out of old work, but also created
new work in which they could engage. "The capitalist devil..."


Jacobs had a related thesis in _The Economy of Cities_; her view of
city growth was that it involved a continuous development in which
a city gradually changes the goods it exports, as well as those
which it imports.

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Apr 12 2000 - 22:30:52 PDT