Nuno Palma, Jaime Reis, Lisbeth Rodrigues, 27 February 2022

The comparatively slow economic growth of Southwestern Europe since the Middle Ages is often attributed to gender discrimination and the idea that women had more agency in England and the Low Countries, which kept fertility levels low and human-capital formation high. This column combines a dataset from six centuries of archival sources with a qualitative discussion of comparative social norms to show that women in Portugal were no more discriminated against than women in other parts of Western Europe, which suggests that other factors must be responsible for the divergence in incomes.

Stephen Broadberry, 20 April 2021

As a result of recent work on historical national accounting, it is now possible to establish more firmly the timing of the Great Divergence of living standards between Europe and Asia in the 18th century. This column shows that there was a European Little Divergence as Britain and the Netherlands overtook Italy and Spain, and an Asian Little Divergence as Japan overtook China and India. The Great Divergence occurred because Japan grew more slowly than Britain and the Netherlands starting from a lower level, and because of a strong negative growth trend in Qing dynasty China.


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