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Manors and MarketsEconomy and Society in the Low Countries 500-1600$
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Bas van Bavel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278664

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278664.001.0001

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Economic Growth and Social Change in the Very Long Run

Economic Growth and Social Change in the Very Long Run

Chapter:
(p.372) VIII Economic Growth and Social Change in the Very Long Run
Source:
Manors and Markets
Author(s):

Bas van Bavel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278664.003.0008

This final chapter reconstructs the patterns of economic growth and the shifts of the economic core regions in the medieval Low Countries. These show that the centre shifted from the Guelders River area and the Meuse Valley in the early Middle Ages to Artois and southern Flanders in the high Middle Ages, and Flanders and later Holland in the later medieval period. The chapter argues that neither climate, demography, nor politics were crucial in these shifts, but the socio‐institutional organization at the regional level. The resulting growth was mostly extensive. If intensive growth occurred, as in these cores, this was short and often went hand in hand with social polarization, and did not result in higher standards of living for the majority of the people. As a result of polarization, the social balance—which was crucial in the emergence of favourable institutions and the rise of these economic cores—was destroyed, forming a main explanation for the alternation of economic cores.

Keywords:   economic growth, standards of living, path‐dependency, institutions, sustainable growth, social balance

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