A reassessment of the Great Divergence debate

Article published in the European Review of Economic History (déc 2019)

This article looks at the most recent data to define when the Little and Great Divergence occurred. It sorts the deep determinants of economic development into three categories (biogeography, culture-institutions, and contingency-conjuncture) to provides a comprehensive review of these factors in the context of the Great Divergence, and it discusses the concepts of persistence and reversal of fortune. The paper concludes that the Great Divergence was never an inevitability but became an increasingly likely prospect as time progressed. Furthermore, biogeography, culture-institutions, and contingency-conjuncture are not contradictory hypotheses. Rather, there is a clear pattern of change over time of the relative importance of these three categories of determinants. Further research is needed to uncover the underlying causal link or latent variable that could explain the successive relative importance over time of biogeographical, cultural–institutional, and contingent–conjunctural determinants of the Great Divergence.

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