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Mixed FortunesAn Economic History of China, Russia, and the West$
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Vladimir Popov

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703631.001.0001

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How the West Became Rich: Stylized Facts and Literature Review

How the West Became Rich: Stylized Facts and Literature Review

(p.9) 1 How the West Became Rich: Stylized Facts and Literature Review
Mixed Fortunes

Vladimir Popov

Oxford University Press

The usual explanation is that countries that we now call developed, or the West, acquired in the sixteenth century and beyond some features that were absent in more traditional societies. The list of these features ranges from abolition of serfdom and protestant ethics, to protection of property rights and free universities. The problem with this reasoning is that it is assumed that these features emerged initially only in Northwestern Europe and only in the sixteenth–eighteenth centuries. However, in fact, there were many countries before the sixteenth century with social structures that possessed, or were conducive to, many of these same features, but they never experienced productivity growth comparable to that which started in Britain and the Netherlands in the sixteenth century, and later in the rest of Europe.

Keywords:   Malthusian trap, how the West got rich, the great divergence, Industrial Revolution

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