The “Great Divergence,” Politics, and Capitalism

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Shami Ghosh Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Toronto

Search for other papers by Shami Ghosh in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Proceeding from a critical assessment of two recent books, Prasannan Parthasarathi’s Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal and R. Bin Wong’s Before and Beyond Divergence, this paper takes stock of the present state of the “Great Divergence” debate. It is argued that the discussion needs to be refined to distinguish between levels of economic development, and paths or trends, in the eighteenth century as well as between causes of sustained growth, and of stagnation or decline in the nineteenth century. It is further suggested that the debate needs to be connected to an understanding of the causes of a “Great Convergence” in the early modern world, and how different regions might have reached similar levels of economic complexity, but might nevertheless have been on different paths for future growth. Finally, this paper suggests that the divergence debate also needs to be connected to the debate on the transition to capitalism.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1933 411 25
Full Text Views 881 48 0
PDF Views & Downloads 931 108 0