The fact that modern industry originated in Britain, and spread initially to Northwest Europe and North America, implied a dramatic divergence in living standards between the industrial ‘West’ and a non-industrial ‘Rest’. This industrial divergence is visibly unravelling today, as Third World economies converge industrially on the rich economies of Europe and North America. This phenomenon has been the subject of much research. Less appreciated, however, are the deep historical roots of this convergence, and in particular of the spread of modern industry to the global periphery. This chapter provides an introduction to the book, which fills this gap by providing a systematic, comparative, historical account of the spread of modern manufacturing beyond its traditional heartland to what we call the poor periphery. The chapter highlights the roles of factor endowments, the international context, luck, and economic policy in determining the timing and extent of manufacturing growth.
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