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Great Divergence and Great Convergence. A Global Perspective

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Abstract

The nineteenth century witnessed an explosive growth of a gap in per capita incomes (and the level of development in general) between the West and the rest of the world that has become recently known as “the Great Divergence” . In the twentieth century, the Great Divergence continued until the early 1970s; then, in the late 1980s, some convergence between the First and Third World started to be observed. Though this convergence has been noticed already by a number of researchers, many economists still doubt its presence or importance. In this book we demonstrate that after the 1980s we deal with a global process of the same scale as the process of the Great Divergence and we propose to designate it as the “the Great Convergence” . Furthermore we show that the Great Convergence is a logical continuation of the Great Divergence, and that certain components of the Great Divergence process were already preparing the onset of the Great Convergence in the period of the former’s peak. What is more, we suggest that the Great Divergence and Great Convergence constitute two phases of a single Global Modernization process being tightly intertwined with other dimensions of Global Modernization as well as with globalization in all its historical phases.
International Perspectives on Social Policy,
Administration, and Practice
LeonidGrinin
AndreyKorotayev
Great
Divergence
and Great
Convergence
A Global Perspective
International Perspectives on Social Policy,
Administration, and Practice
Series Editors
Sheying Chen
Jason L. Powell
More information about this series at
http://www.springer.com/series/007
Leonid Grinin Andrey Korotayev
Great Divergence
and Great Convergence
A Global Perspective
With a Foreword by Jack A. Goldstone
International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice
ISBN 978-3-319-17779-3 ISBN 978-3-319-17780-9 (eBook)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17780-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015937746
Springer Cham Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
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Printed on acid-free paper
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Leonid Grinin
Eurasian Center of Big History and System
Forecasting
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian
Academy of Sciences
Moscow , Russia
Andrey Korotayev
International Laboratory of Political
Demography and Social Macrodynamics
Russian Presidential Academy of National
Economy and Public Administration
(RANEPA)
Moscow , Russia
v
Foreword
Since man fi rst forged metal tools and started farming for his food, thus emerging
from the stone age, no event in human history has had a greater impact than the
Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During that span,
Europeans increased their use of fossil fuel energy by several orders of magnitude,
began to use that fossil fuel energy to produce motive power as well as heat, and
developed a host of high-effi ciency industrial processes and new modes of transpor-
tation, with spillovers into military technology as well. As a result, Europeans went
from “underdeveloped” nations, who mainly traded raw materials and bullion for
the manufactured and plantation goods of the “developed” world of Asia (cotton
and silk textiles; ceramics and lacquer ware and tropical woods; coffee, tea, indigo,
nuts, and spices), and who were allowed limited trading roles on the suffrage of
India, China, and Japan, to the world’s center of manufacturing and manufactured
exports, with military dominance and the ability to dictate terms of trade to the
major Asian societies.
The shorthand summary of this process for the last two centuries has been the
“Rise of the West” and explaining it has been one of the central questions of the
social sciences. The traditional view since the time of Karl Marx and Max Weber,
extended by twentieth century scholars such as William McNeil (1963, 1990) and
David Landes (1998), was that since the middle ages, Europe was a uniquely cre-
ative society that advanced in agriculture, accounting, use of wind and water power,
and craftsmanship, while Asian societies reached their peak of development in the
medieval period, and thereafter simply maintained themselves in a kind of “frozen”
state of development or even declined. While in the medieval period the societies of
Abbasid Islam and Song China might have started at a higher level of economic
productivity and technology than Europe, the “rise” of European productivity and
technology over the succeeding centuries led to European global domination by the
nineteenth century.
Yet in the last two decades, a group of comparative sociologists and global his-
torians have offered a counter-narrative, led by scholars of the “California School”
of global historians (Goldstone 1991, 2002, 2008a, b; Pomeranz 2000, 2002; Wong
1997; Frank 1998; Marks 2002; Vries 2003, 2010). This counter-narrative called
vi
attention to the continuing vitality of agricultural and manufacturing technology in
Asia, with India and China remaining world-dominant manufacturing powers up
through the seventeenth century. It illustrated relatively high living standards
among the Asian agricultural population, comparable to those in Europe, up to
1800. And it demonstrated that Asian merchants and pirates were the equal or supe-
rior of European trading companies in wealth and military prowess until the late
1700s. In this counter-narrative, the dominant position of Europe arose rather
quickly, not as a long “rise” but as a sudden “Great Divergence” from roughly equal
levels of productivity and material well-being c. 1750 to clear European dominance
a century later.
Both the traditional view and the California school view prompted similar ques-
tions: What caused Europe to reach clear superiority in wealth and power c. 1850?
And is this superiority destined to last a long time, or will it disappear as quickly as
it arrived? Yet they provided very different answers. The traditional view sought to
explain a long-term rise by deep and lasting features of European societies—their
religious pluralism and heterodoxy (especially Puritanism and Calvinism), their
heritage of Greek democracy and science and Roman law, the competitive multi-
state system in which they were embedded, regimes of secure property rights and
superior accounting of profi t and loss, more advanced systems of credit provision,
much higher levels of wages achieved by urban workers, and long-lasting experi-
ence in transnational and transcontinental trade. From all of these, military superior-
ity and accelerating productivity growth naturally emerged. Yet since it took many
centuries for this pattern of modern industrial economic growth to be established,
rooted in unique and characteristically European institutions and cultures, it would
take a very long time (if ever) for non-European societies to converge in income and
productivity levels with the West.
The California School takes the opposite view. Since the divergence was late and
rapid, they emphasize advantages that appeared late and somewhat by chance: the
discoveries that American colonies could produce bountiful cheap cotton for
European industry, and that England’s abundant coal could be used to fuel piston
and rotary engines; the sudden eighteenth century breakthroughs in mechanical
engines and production techniques by British metalworkers and craftsmen; and the
internal confl icts that undermined the effi ciency of Chinese, Ottoman, and Indian
agriculture and crafts and governance, amplifi ed by European military aggression.
For many of the California School, since the surge of European dominance was
short and based more on recent acquisitions and discoveries than long-lasting and
unique characteristics, there was every reason to expect that non-European coun-
tries would quickly catch up. The success of Japan and South Korea in reaching
Western levels of technology and living standards, and the recent growth of China
and India at much faster rates than Western nations, suggests that this viewpoint is
a more accurate template of current conditions.
For the last decade, proponents of the traditional view and the California school
have argued, producing more details and additional arguments to buttress their case.
But neither side has won the argument—instead the weaknesses of both positions
now stand revealed. On the one hand, many assumptions of the traditional view, that
Foreword
vii
Europe was superior in military technology, trading acumen, and scientifi c advances
as early as the 1500s or earlier, have been shown to be unfounded (cf. Agoston
2008; Andrade 2015; Ragep and Feldhay 2015). On the other hand, many assump-
tions of the California School, especially that the most advanced regions of China
had incomes per head equal to those in the most advanced regions of Europe as late
as 1800, have been called into doubt (Allen et al. 2011; Li and van Zanden 2012).
As a result, the era from 1500 to 1800 has emerged as central. Yet our view of those
centuries remains cloudy: Of the many characteristics and circumstances that sepa-
rated European societies from Asian ones in these centuries, which were critical for
the later emergence of European domination after 1800?
Into this confusion, Leonid Grinin and Andrey Korotayev bring clarity and
order. They treat the period from 1450 to 1830 as a lengthy period of innovation
and productivity increase in Europe, starting from a relatively low level of inven-
tive activity and technology, but proceeding through a series of phases, of which
the last phase—from 1760 to 1830, constituting the “classic” Industrial
Revolution—was only the fi nal phase of a lengthy process. These phases began
with a “preparatory” period from 1100 to 1450 in which the development of free
labor and capitalist relations set the stage for profi t-seeking and further economic
developments, peaking in the rich luxury manufactures of Venice and the trade and
accounting and artistic and scientifi c breakthroughs of the Renaissance. Then the
“long sixteenth century” from the late fi fteenth to the early seventeenth century
showed remarkable advances in oceanic navigation, engineering, windmills and
water power, and commercialized high productivity agriculture, led by the
Portuguese and Spanish, but also Germany and the Netherlands. This was also the
age of the great discoveries and the early breakthroughs to the mechanical model
of nature in European sciences. After this period, the next phase arose from the
early seventeenth century through the third quarter of the eighteenth century, led
by advances in Britain and especially the Netherlands. This period saw the con-
solidation of constitutional monarchy in Britain and of oligarchic republican rule
in the Netherlands; the latter’s development of mechanization, fi shing, warehous-
ing, and complex industrial centers; and the rise of global trading companies and
military advances, especially in naval warfare. All of these prior developments
then set the stage for the “fi nal phase” of the Industrial Revolution utilizing fossil-
fuel and water-powered machinery and major advances in chemical processes and
transport as well.
This new view, carefully presented and rigorously modeled by Grinin and
Korotayev, provides a richer and more nuanced version of the “Great Divergence,
bridging many of the differences between the traditional and California viewpoints.
Yet they go further. Amazingly, by building a model utilizing human capital (educa-
tion), global population growth, and regional productivity, they show how both the
Great Divergence and the recent “Great Convergence” (the economic catching up of
developing countries) are phases of the same process of global modernization. They
make it clear that once begun, the Great Divergence inevitably leads to later
Convergence through the globalization of the world economy. Yet they also explain
specifi c regional lags and variations in this process.
Foreword
viii
This is a remarkable achievement and a major advance in the debate on the
long- term trajectory of global economic development. The Russian global-historical
systems school of scholarship has long been making important contributions to
identifying and explaining the major patterns in long-term world history (Turchin
and Korotayev 2006; Turchin and Nefedov 2009; Korotayev et al. 2006a, b;
Korotayev and Tsirel 2010; Grinin 2007, 2011a, 2012a; Grinin and Korotayev
2006). It is a pleasure to introduce this latest work to a broader audience, and com-
mend it to all those who are interested in the debate on the rise of the west and Great
Divergence, and all who ponder the future of global inequality and development.
George Mason University Jack A. Goldstone
Russian Presidential Academy
of National Economy and Public Administration
Washington, DC
Moscow
Foreword
ix
Acknowledgements
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Antony Harper (USA), Ksenia
Ukhova, and Elena Emanova (Russia) for their invaluable help with the editing of
this book. This research has been supported by the Russian Science Foundation
(Project # 14-11-00634).
xi
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence
Brings the East Closer to the West .......................................................... 1
Why This Book Has Been Written, or the Great Divergence
and Great Convergence as Two Phases of a Single Process ....................... 1
How Did the Perception by the Europeans of the Non- European
World Change? From Marco Polo to the California School ....................... 2
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future ........................................ 6
2 Great Divergence and the Rise of the West ............................................ 17
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe .................... 17
Some Preconditions of the Great Divergence in the Early
Modern Period ............................................................................................ 31
Some Comparisons Between the West and the East:
Technological Peculiarities ..................................................................... 32
Some Comparisons Between Europe and the East:
Structural Features of Economic Systems .............................................. 36
Some Comparisons Between the West and the East:
Socioeconomic Peculiarities ................................................................... 37
Territorial and Demographic Proportions ............................................... 40
Catching Up Divergence of the Early Modern Period ................................ 41
Industrial Revolution and Its Three Phases ................................................. 52
Why Does It Make Sense to Consider the Industrial
Revolution as a Long-Term Process? ...................................................... 52
The Initial Phase of the Industrial Revolution ........................................ 55
Middle Phase of the Industrial Revolution.............................................. 57
Final Phase of the Industrial Revolution ................................................. 62
Why Britain? ............................................................................................... 64
Beginning and Apogee of the Great Divergence
and the Emergence of the Capitalist World-System ................................... 73
Modernization of the West ...................................................................... 73
Subjugation of the East and the Start of Its Transformation ................... 78
Contents
xii
3 Great Convergence and the Rise of the Rest .......................................... 85
Long-Term Divergence–Convergence Trends as Regards the GDP ........... 86
On the Dynamics of the West’s Share in the World Population ............. 93
On the Dynamics of the Gap Between the West
and the Rest as Regards the Per Capita GDP .......................................... 96
Statistical Addendum to This Chapter: On the Structure
of the Present-day Convergence .............................................................. 106
4 The Great Convergence and Globalization: How Former
Colonies Became the World Economic Locomotives ............................. 115
Western Technologies and the Emergence of Prerequisites
for a Shift Toward Convergence in the Late Nineteenth
and Early Twentieth Centuries .................................................................... 116
West and East After the Second World War:
Technologies and Politics ........................................................................... 120
The Beginning of the Turn to Convergence:
Causes and Manifestations .......................................................................... 124
Fundamental Reasons ............................................................................. 125
Some Consequences of Changes ................................................................ 134
On Discussions About the Possibility of Convergence:
Why Did Economists Overlook It? ............................................................. 138
Globalization Becomes the Major Cause of Convergence.......................... 145
How the Globalization Have Weakened the Core
and Strengthened the Periphery .................................................................. 149
5 Afterword: The Great Convergence and Possible Increase
in Global Instability, or the World Without an Absolute Leader ......... 159
Appendix A: Technological Innovation Activities in Britain
and Other Western Countries (1400–1900)—A Quantitative Analysis ..... 167
Appendix B: A Mathematical Model of the Great Divergence
and the Great Convergence—Demography, Literacy,
and the Spirit of Capitalism ........................................................................... 179
Reconsidering Weber .................................................................................. 179
A Mathematical Model of the Great Divergence
and the Great Convergence ......................................................................... 186
The Phases of Global Demographic Transition as Correlated
with Phases of the Great Divergence and Great Convergence .................... 198
The Income Gap and World Population Growth
as Tightly-Coupled Processes ..................................................................... 201
Methods and Data Summary for Appendix B ............................................. 205
References ........................................................................................................ 209
Index ................................................................................................................. 243
Contents
1© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
L. Grinin, A. Korotayev, Great Divergence and Great Convergence,
International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17780-9_1
Chapter 1
Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great
Convergence Brings the East Closer
to the West
Why This Book Has Been Written, or the Great Divergence
and Great Convergence as Two Phases of a Single Process
The globalizing world needs global knowledge that is required to investigate global
processes. This monograph is devoted to the analysis of such truly global processes.
It considers the economic development of the world in the last 600 years and offers
forecasts for the next fi ve decades and more.
The nineteenth century witnessed an explosive growth of a gap in per capita
incomes (and the level of development in general) between the West and the rest of
the world that has become recently known as “the Great Divergence” . In the twen-
tieth century, the Great Divergence continued until the early 1970s; then, in the late
1980s, some convergence between the First and Third World started to be observed.
Though this convergence has been noticed already by a number of researchers,
many economists still doubt its presence or importance.
In this book we demonstrate that after the 1980s we deal with a global
process of the same scale as the process of the Great Divergence and we pro-
pose to designate it as the “the Great Convergence” . Furthermore we show that
the Great Convergence is a logical continuation of the Great Divergence, and
that certain components of the Great Divergence process were already prepar-
ing the onset of the Great Convergence in the period of the former’s peak.
What is more, we suggest that the Great Divergence and Great Convergence
constitute two phases of a single Global Modernization process being tightly
intertwined with other dimensions of Global Modernization as well as with
globalization in all its historical phases.
We also provide some evidence in support of our forecast that the process of the
Great Convergence will continue over the forthcoming decades and, thus, will be
one of the main factors in our globalizing world.
2
How Did the Perception by the Europeans of the
Non- European World Change? From Marco Polo
to the California School
It has long been known that societies develop unevenly. In fact, we are dealing with
a kind of law of uneven development of societies, which implies that from time to
time the leaders of global development (as well as the ideas about the balance of
forces in the world) change. At the same time, certain ideas about the world hierar-
chy (after they have been strengthening for quite some time) can become very
strong stereotypes even among historians and economists who seemingly should
have a deeper understanding of how quickly things may change. And it is rather
symptomatic that the strongest belief in such stereotypes appear just before the
reversal of the respective trends (that can turn rather unexpected indeed). This phe-
nomenon, by the way, is one of the reasons of the abovementioned underestimation
of the importance of the present-day convergence.
Since the thirteenth century (especially after the famous book The Travels of
Marco Polo had appeared) for several centuries the Europeans perceived the Orient
to be fabulously rich in comparison with their own countries, and the quality of
products manufactured by the Eastern masters seemed unattainable. But then,
already in the eighteenth century (Gordon 1997 ; Alam 2006 ) such perceptions
began to change rapidly. Now the Orient, by contrast, became synonymous with a
sort of eternal stagnation and backwardness.
In the nineteenth century, Europe (and the West in general) left Asia and North
Africa (let alone Sub-Saharan Africa) far behind as regards their level of develop-
ment in economic, military, scientifi c, educational, and many other spheres. Britain
and other Western countries, to varying degrees of completeness, subjugated most
Asian and African societies. The Western infl uence was crucial for the rest of the
world and very noticeable in economic terms even in the distant periphery of the
eastern states. The fact is that the increased industrial might of Europe turned Asian
countries fi rst into markets for European manufactured goods and then ruined Asian
artisans, and fi nally transformed “the Orient” into a place for the application of
European capital and a source of cheap labor.
This very wide socioeconomic gap (whose emergence was much later called “the
Great Divergence”) between Europe and Asia became a fact that did not require
proof; it was so evident that there was an idea that this superiority was something
perfectly natural and permanent, in other words, “a simple affair” (Goldstone 2013 :
54). One could observe the strengthening of the idea (that emerged in the eighteenth
century) of the stagnant Orient that supposedly had never developed, of the Orient
which had constant primordial essential features, including “its tendency to despo-
tism, its aberrant mentality, its habits of inaccuracy, its backwardness” (Said 1979 :
205). The West was supposed to be so different from the East that they had little in
common. Finally, such a view was crystallized in the poetic words of Rudyard
Kipling “ East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet (Kipling
1919 : 3). On the one hand, this approach led to the situation when “every European,
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
3
in what he could say about the Orient”, risked to appear as “a racist, an imperialist,
and almost totally ethnocentric” (Said 1979 : 204). On the other hand, such views
led to the birth of the theory of civilizations (Rückert 1857 ; Данилевский 1995
[1869]; Spengler 1991 [1918–1922]; Toynbee [ 1934 –1961], etc.), as unique incom-
parable cultures.
1 But in any case, the backwardness of the East and the superiority
of the West were perceived almost as natural things that could be explained from
different philosophical perspectives (including even racist ones), but the reasons for
the rise of the West and the retardation of the East were not among the principal
issues discussed by the social scientists of the time of the Great Divergence. Perhaps,
this view was fundamentally important only for schools, which saw the historical
process as a single line, or from the position of a single main factor, as this was
observed within the framework of unilinear evolutionism (see, e.g., Carneiro 2003 ),
or the geographic school or Marxism .
2
Overall it is not, therefore, surprising that until the second half of the twentieth
century the problem of correlation in the development of the East and the West was
not investigated adequately. In the second half of the twentieth century together
with the liberation of the colonies and the generally increasing importance of devel-
oping countries, this issue became more popular, and it began to be studied from
different points of view.
In the early 1960s the famous book by William McNeill ( 1963 ) The Rise of the
West came out; it had a characteristic subtitle A History of the Human Community ,
which seemed to suggest that the achievements of the West for some time now
became synonymous with the achievements of humankind. And although the book
actually paid much attention to the history of non-Western civilizations, the author
seems to have taken the dominance of the West for granted, which is refl ected in
particular in the fact that in 1963 McNeill did not recognize the leading role of
China and the Chinese civilization in the period between 1000 and 1500. Later, hav-
ing reconsidered his approach, McNeil quite frankly acknowledged this fault
(McNeill 1990 : 5), as well as the pressure of Eurocentric stereotypes in general:
“In retrospect it seems obvious that The Rise of the West should be seen as an expression of
the postwar imperial mood in the United States. Its scope and conception is a form of intel-
lectual imperialism, for it takes on the world as a whole, and it tries to understand global
history on the basis of cultural diffusion developed among American anthropologists in the
1930s” (McNeill 1990 : 1–2).
1 On this basis Spengler, however, expressed an idea (that seemed pretty seditious in 1918 ) that the
success of the West was not eternal and that (like any other culture that experienced its transforma-
tion into civilization) it was to expect its “sunset” in the forthcoming centuries. Incidentally,
Spengler suggested the turn in the century (around 2000) as a landmark around which he expected
the start of the acute phase of the crisis of the Western culture.
2 Incidentally, this point was one of the main reason why the problem of the comparison of the
development of the East and the West was so important for the Soviet historians and theorists (e.g.,
Семенов 1970 , 1980 ; Качановский 1971 ; Васильев 1988 ; Фурсов 1989 ; Нуреев 1989 ; for the
analysis of the study of this issue among the Soviet social scientists see, e.g., Gellner 1988 ; Гринин
1998 ; Korotayev et al. 2000 : 24–25) many of whom achieved quite interesting results ( e.g. ,
Сказкин etal. 1962; Никифоров 1977 ; Павлов 1979 ; Васильев 1982 ).
How Did the Perception by the Europeans of the Non-European World Change?…
4
In the 1970s and 1980s many interesting works on the economic history of Asian
countries were published, and many of them consisted of valuable comparisons
between Asia and Europe, including economic development of the East within
global development. Some of these works have become the classics (e.g., Braudel
1973 ; Bairoch 1975 ; Issawi 1980 ; Maddison 1983 ; Cameron 1989 ). One could
observe the transition to truly scientifi c (and at the same time historical) methods in
these and many other works, because these problems (i.e., the question of the causes
of the East lagging behind the West) were placed at the center of research in eco-
nomic and demographic history with the appropriate use of quantitative methods. In
fact, it is very diffi cult to compare different cultures and cultural codes, especially if
one insists on their uniqueness and incomparability. However, it is possible to com-
pare indicators such as fertility and mortality rates, GDP per capita or calorie intake
per capita, and yield and productivity. Here we unquestionably see a clear common
denominator which may help to perform a cross-national study of the economic and
social history of all societies. Thus, there was a return to the idea of scientifi c
approaches and common laws of historical development of different societies on a
new basis. A particularly important contribution to the scientifi c study of the Great
Divergence was made by the California School that formed in the late 1990s and the
early 2000s (Blaut 1993 , 2000 ; Goody 1996 , 2004 ; Wong 1997 ; Frank 1998 ; Lee
and Wang 1999 ; Lieberman 1999 , 2003 ; Pomeranz 2000 , 2002 ; Goldstone 1991 ,
2000 , 2002 , 2009a , 2013 ; Hobson 2004 ; Rosenthal and Wong 2011 ; Vries 2013 ).
Note that the very term “Great Divergence” appeared in the writings of scholars of
this particular school. The founder of this school, Jack Goldstone quite justly
maintains:
“The problem of the Rise of the West has become ever-greater and more complex in the last
two decades. The ‘California School’ scholars (including myself) have documented deep
parallels between the material and political dynamics of European and Asian societies up
through the early nineteenth century. We fi nd that in many respects… the growing quantita-
tive record of economic history shows that Europeans were laggards, not leaders, in many
areas… Given this clear lead of Asian societies in exploration, production, manufacturing,
seafaring and navigation, experimental science, pluralism and toleration, lasting well into
the seventeenth and in some respects the eighteenth century, it has become far more diffi cult
to explain how and why Europeans suddenly leapt forward, becoming by the nineteenth
century masters of the world in all of these respects. From a region that in the twelfth, thir-
teenth, fourteenth, and fi fteenth centuries was pushed back on its heels by the Arabs, the
Mongols and the Turks, Europe suddenly became the aggressor, driving into Asia and
becoming the victor and conqueror. Because this change was relatively sudden and rela-
tively late, what is now labeled the ‘Great Divergence’ of East and West (Pomeranz 2000 )
has become very diffi cult to explain, and attracted a range of increasingly diverse and even
wild theories. What was once easy to explain in terms of long-standing, deep-rooted, and
persistent European advantages now is much harder to explain, as a sudden and late reversal
in global fortunes” (Goldstone 2013 : 55–56).
The California School has made a very important contribution in its attempt to
reconstruct the real proportions of the scales and levels of development of various
societies in the Early Modern Period. This allows us to remove distortions in our
understanding and imbalances of the Eurocentric view of history. In this respect one
can compare them with the creators of the civilizational approach, which opened
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
5
civilizations to the Europeans, showing these civilizations to be comparable and
even superior to the European civilization. To our mind, the most important contri-
bution of the California School is that its studies have demonstrated in a very con-
vincing way that the general level of the development of the most advanced societies
of the East was in the Early Modern Period quite comparable with that of the Early
Modern European societies.
3
But still we should note that some general theoretical approaches of a number of
representatives of this school have signifi cant methodological fl aws that eventually
exaggerate the abruptness of the Western breakthrough and that these fl aws do not
allow us to understand that the process of divergence in a number of important
aspects began much earlier than the nineteenth century (this point is discussed in
detail in Chap. 2 of this monograph).
4
3 On the other hand, the authors of the present monograph having obtained their majors in History
in Soviet universities had a feeling of déjà vu when they started reading the studies produced by
the California School. Indeed, this was just what the orthodox Soviet Marxist professors and ortho-
dox Soviet Marxist textbooks used to teach ( e.g. , Симоновская and Ацамба 1968 ; Губер et al.
1982 ; Ацамба et al. 1989 ). These were rather a very few dissident Soviet Marxists who relied on
Marx’ notion of the “Asiatic mode of production” and insisted on the point that Medieval and Early
Modern East lagged far behind Medieval and Early Modern West (Семенов 1970 , 1980 ; Васильев
1982 , 1988 ; Фурсов 1989 ; Нуреев 1989 ). The orthodox Soviet Marxists insisted that in the
Middle Ages both the advanced societies of the East and the advanced societies of West belonged
to one (“feudal”) “socioeconomic formation” and, hence, they had an essentially similar level of
development. According to them, in the Early Modern Period the most advanced Eastern societies
somehow lagged behind the most advanced Western societies as regards the development of capi-
talism, but before the nineteenth century the lead of the West was not signifi cant; it only became
really signifi cant in the nineteenth century in direct relations with colonial/semi-colonial subjuga-
tion of the East by the West. The data on the discussion on the Asiatic mode of production in the
Soviet Union (1928–1931) presented by Nikiforov (Никифоров 1977 : 176–186) demonstrate that
the Communist Leadership of the Soviet Union and Comintern opted for the theory of “Eastern
Feudalism” rather than “Asiatic mode of production” mainly for political reasons, as the latter
theory implied that the East lagged too much behind the West and, hence, one would have to wait
too long before the former caught up with the latter—thus opening perspectives of the Communist
revolution (which, according to Marx demanded a substantially high level of development of capi-
talist relationships). However, the Soviet orthodox Marxist scholars did not limit themselves to
ideological declarations but presented substantial evidence demonstrating that in the Late Middle
Ages and the Early Modern Period the most advanced societies of the East had approximately the
same level of development as the European societies (though they recognized that by the early
nineteenth century the former were somehow lagging behind the latter as regards the development
of capitalist relations) ( e.g. , Сказкин и др. 1962; Качановский 1971 ; Никифоров 1977 ).
4 About the achievements, development and some diffi culties in the course of researches of
California School see also in the Preface to this monograph written by Jack Goldstone. Here we
would mention only the fact that the representatives of this school tend to underestimate a funda-
mental point that the great breakthrough toward the use of machines and steam power (that was
observed in the second half of the eighteenth century in Britain) was a result of a rather long-term
pan-European scientifi c and technological development. For example, the idea of some representa-
tives of the California School and some economists who are ideologically close to it (like Robert
Allen) that the main causes of the industrial revolution in Britain were coals and colonies (Pomeranz
2000 ; Allen 2009 , 2011 ), does not take into account the point that all of these benefi ts (or the pos-
sibility of their use) in itself are already the result of socio-economic peculiarities of Europe. Thus,
commerce developed in Europe for several centuries (and it received a substantial additional push
How Did the Perception by the Europeans of the Non-European World Change?…
6
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
Even the largest-scale processes have their beginnings and their ends, they cannot
be eternal. Moreover, many processes are not just terminated; they may well be
transformed into their opposites. In fact, this was just the case of the Great
Divergence. Those processes that switched the Great Divergence into the Great
Convergence were gaining momentum gradually, almost imperceptibly. By now the
fact of the growing convergence between the First and the Third world has been
noticed by a number of researchers (e.g., Amsden 2004 ; Sala-i-Martin 2006 ;
Мельянцев 2009 ; Spence 2011 ; Derviş 2012 ). However, in our view, even these
researchers underestimate the real scale and historical signifi cance of this process.
As we have already mentioned previously, in the present monograph we demon-
strate that after the 1980s we deal with the Great Convergence, that is with a global
process of the same scale as the process of the Great Divergence.
A very interesting point (treated in detail in Chap. 4 ) is that the Western societies
fertilized (sometimes against their will) the soil for the onset of the Great
Convergence. The reason is that in order to maintain its superiority (and, thus, to
support the Great Divergence) the West had in one form or another to introduce in
the East modern infrastructure, education, management and so on. First, of course,
Britain and other European countries were concerned with the opening of Asian
markets for their manufactured goods, which involved a rather active use of various
military and fi nancial means. However, they discovered very soon that to continue
the expansion of exports of goods they needed to improve the infrastructure in the
peripheral countries and to modernize certain sectors of these countries. That is why
the process of opening and expanding markets almost immediately started to require
the export of capital in general and massive investments in infrastructure in particu-
lar, as well as in the expansion of the production of raw materials in the countries of
the World System periphery. The Western technology began to penetrate the East.
This was the beginning of the conversion with the looming perspective of
from the Reformation and the diffusion of the book-printing); the ability to establish and maintain
colonies was the result of amplifi cation of naval and military-technical superiority of the Europeans;
whereas before the coal became a new industrial energy source, it would take many decades of
technical and scientifi c breakthroughs. The point that some of the California School representa-
tives tend to ignore that by the late eighteenth century the West was much more developed than the
East in some quite important respects is connected with their tendency to exaggerate the degree of
similarity of the development of China and Europe, even by the end of the eighteenth century,
based on the comparison of a very few (though, still, quite important) indicators (such as real wage
or per capita calorie intakes). Such comparisons do not take into account a number of other dimen-
sions where Europe overtook the East already in the Early Modern Period (like the science and
technology development rates, military organization, or development of fi nancial systems). The
fact is that the overall level of development is measured rather imperfectly with the level of societ-
ies’ wealth or per capita incomes. In the present-day world this point is well illustrated by some
oil-exporting states whose per capita incomes are often quite comparable with the ones of many
advanced Western states, whereas the overall level of development of the latter is still much higher
than the one of the former.
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
7
Convergence. In general, this contributed signifi cantly to the development of local
industry and economy and the growth of national consciousness.
In recent decades, this was the struggle of the West for the free movement of its
capital and goods that eventually led to a new and much more powerful wave of
economic globalization, a wave through which de-industrialization of the West and
industrialization in the East began—respectively, the growth rates in the West fell,
and in the East, they rose. This observation is not trivial. In fact, one of the main
accusations directed toward globalization is that it deepens the gap between the
developed and developing countries dooming the latter to eternal backwardness.
This quite common belief obscures the true picture of the world.
In the present monograph we demonstrate that the actual situation is quite the
opposite. Our studies show that it is due to the globalization that the developing
countries are generally growing much faster than the developed states, as this hap-
pens, the World System core is beginning to weaken and its periphery is beginning
to strengthen. In the third chapter of the book we provide substantial data to prove
this idea. In the fourth chapter we explain why the globalization was bound to lead
to the explosive rise of many developing countries and the relative weakening of the
developed economies.
The Great Divergence is not just a process of growing differences in the levels of
development of the West and the Rest, but also the process of the emergence of a new
type of global economic system in which the economies of various countries were
incorporated into a single world economic system (but with very different roles).
Similarly, the Great Convergence is changing the World System and nations’ roles
within it due to the new opportunities of the global division of labor.
But the Great Convergence has not only a purely economic, but also a techno-
logical basis, as it has accelerated as a result of the information revolution that
facilitated the movement of capital, information and the use of remote workforce
and educational resources. Thus, what caused the Great Divergence? The Industrial
Revolution did. What triggered the Great Convergence of our time? It was the
Information Revolution (that radically accelerated globalization processes).
Since the 1950s, economists [fi rst of all, Gerschenkron ( 1952 ) and Solow ( 1956 )]
started to speak about the possibility of convergence between developed and devel-
oping countries. However, later in the 1980s and 1990s, the Western economists
came to the general conclusion that this convergence is hardly possible at all.
Indeed, not so long ago many prominent economists still made such statements as:
Empirical studies have shown consistent evidence of a cross-country income distribution
displaying bimodality with a marked thinning in the middle. This result is interpreted as
showing that poor countries are not catching up with the rich, but rather that there is evi-
dence of club convergence, that is, polarization at the extremes of the income distribution
(Cetorelli 2002 : 30).
Unfortunately (from the perspective of the world’s poor countries), there is little empirical
support for unconditional convergence. Most studies have uncovered little tendency for
poor countries to catch up with rich ones (Abel and Bernanke 2005 : 235).
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
8
There is no evidence of convergence in the world income distribution over the postwar
era… We therefore need to understand how the poor economies fell behind and what pre-
vents them today from adopting and imitating the technologies and the organizations (and
importing the capital) of richer nations (Acemoglu 2009 : 17, 22).
And this was written at the time when the process of the Great Convergence was
already well on its way. In fact, economists largely overlooked the Great Convergence
exactly in that very period when it became irreversible. But the most surprising
point is that even today, when the developing countries are the major contributors to
global economic growth, the idea of the Great Convergence has not received appro-
priate recognition. It seems that here (as in many other cases) stereotypes prevailed
over the scientifi c approach.
Our conclusion that it is possible to speak about the Great Convergence as a
global process already since the 1980s and especially since the 1990s is signifi cant
not only because it is important to recognize this fact. The point is that, in our opin-
ion, this process will largely determine the course of global economic and even
political process in the forthcoming decades. Thus, the scientifi c theory of the Great
Convergence becomes a tool of scientifi c forecasting.
The Issues Covered in the Present Monograph
This book touches on many
important scientifi c matters, because both the Great Divergence and the Great
Convergence are very large-scale global processes. Of course, in this book we can
only very briefl y analyze many extremely important and relevant issues (such as the
structural and demographic cycles, the Malthusian trap and opportunities to escape
it, the variety of defi nitions of globalization and especially the collapse of the colo-
nial system, the success and failures of the Green Revolution, and the peculiarities
of the oil-exporting countries). But we have considered in substantial detail some
other issues that appear of no less relevance for the subject of this book—such as the
prerequisites for a breakthrough of the West in the Late Middle Ages (including a
comparison of Europe and the East with respect to their innovative dynamics in dif-
ferent periods of their history), the description of the structure of the industrial revo-
lution, the answer to the question why Britain became the birthplace of the industrial
breakthrough (including the development and analysis of the characteristics of the
British patent system), the infl uence of globalization on the deindustrialization of
developed countries and the industrialization of the developing ones, the role of
human capital dynamics, and so on. In addition, we believe it is essential to consider
the origins of the Great Convergence, starting from the conception of the process,
when even the possibility itself of convergence seemed very unlikely. Thus, we have
also attached two special appendices dealing with a more detailed analysis of some
of those issues.
The book’s structure generally follows its title. Recall that we considered two
major processes that are phases of a single superprocess, as well as an associated
range of scientifi c issues. However, the Great Divergence has been studied by now
much better than the Great Convergence; on the other hand, the notion of “the Great
Divergence” has been already more or less recognized by the academic community,
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
9
whereas we introduce the notion of “the Great Convergence” for the fi rst time right
in this book. This necessitates some amendments to the structure of our book.
Indeed, the idea of the Great Divergence in general has been recognized for quite
some time, and even in its present form, it was presented about 20 years ago. In fact,
virtually no one would dispute the fact that a sharp gap emerged between Europe
and Asia by the end of the nineteenth century. Of course, there are some debates
about rather important points, but still they occur within a generally recognized
framework: when did the European lead start? From the mid-nineteenth century?
From the beginning of the nineteenth century? Or earlier? In the eighteenth century?
In the seventeenth century? Or even earlier? In the fi fteenth century? In the four-
teenth century? What were the reasons for it? When did the Great Divergence
become irreversible? What causes determined the point that Britain became the
birthplace of modern industry? How high was the level of development of the Asian
societies in the early nineteenth century? And so on. All these and other issues are
quite thoroughly discussed in Chap. 2 of this book. But we think that one chapter is
suffi cient enough to give a systematic description of the Great Divergence, as well
as our interpretation of its phases, causes and driving forces. However, we discuss
some points additionally in the appendices.
The situation is different with respect to the idea of the Great Convergence
(let alone that this very term is only now being introduced). As has already been
mentioned, even now most economists are not ready—despite evidence to the
contrary—to recognize the reality or importance of this process (including the belief
that the empirical evidence does not support its reality in a convincing manner). In
this connection, we needed two chapters to prove the point.
5
In Chap. 3 we analyze to what extent the process of the Great Convergence has
advanced by now; in Chap. 4 we describe the causes and development of the process
of the Great Convergence and provide our explanation of various factors of the
Great Convergence. Finally, in Chap. 5 we offer forecasts of the geopolitical and
geo-economic development of the world in the forthcoming decades on the basis of
the proposed theory
Thus, the book consists of fi ve chapters (including the fi rst introductory one),
that are complemented with two appendices.
As has been mentioned above, in Chap. 2 ( The Great Divergence and the Rise of
the West ) we fi rst of all give a sketch of the whole process of the Great Divergence
and its transformation into the Great Convergence. This is followed by a detailed
analysis of those factors that allowed the West to overtake the East in the Modern
Period, as well as those factors that put in motion the process of the Great Divergence.
This necessitates the consideration of certain aspects of the development of the East
and the West from the mid-fi fteenth century (and even earlier in some respects) till
the late twentieth century.
Among the most important provisions that we develop in this chapter is the idea
that, starting with the early second millennium BC, one can distinguish the potential
5 In addition, we start discussing some processes that fi nally transformed the Great Divergence into
the Great Convergence already in Chap.
2 .
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
10
that later enabled Europe to overtake the East. However, for a long time Europe
lagged far behind the East, and it managed to develop its potential advantages only
in the Early Modern Period. We analyze in detail the reasons that enabled Europe to
achieve this. Another important idea in this chapter is that we believe it is much
more reasonable to consider the Industrial Revolution as a rather long-term process
that started in the late fi fteenth century and continued till the mid-nineteenth cen-
tury. This process went through several phases, and, in our understanding, the period
between the last third of the eighteenth and the fi rst third of the nineteenth century
(this period is traditionally denoted as the period of the “Industrial Revolution”) was
only the fi nal phase of the Industrial Revolution, at which an irreversible transition
to machine technology and at the same time to a new kind of energy occurred. But
it was the most prominent and visible phase of the industrial revolution.
We do not consider the European nineteenth-century breakthrough as a really
unexpected development, we rather view it as a fairly long process that continued
from the fi fteenth to the nineteenth century, during which in some respects (e.g.
military-technical and scientifi c) Europe was already ahead of the advanced coun-
tries of Asia, whereas in others (such as the level of craftsmanship) it still lagged
behind. But in general, we denote this period as “ catching up divergence ”. All of the
above said has allowed us to express our own opinion on the reasons for the Britain
leadership in that period. Although Britain was clearly the leader at that point, but
in that period we also observe a number of important processes that can be identi-
ed as pan-European (including the development of military technology, trade, sci-
ence, pan-European commercial and industrial crises of the second half of the
eighteenth century, and the beginning of the demographic transition). From this
perspective, we clearly trace in the Industrial Revolution the result of the collective
achievements of different European societies though that was a sort of relay-race of
achievements (see also Appendix A).
Chapter 3 ( Great Convergence and the Rise of the Rest ). In the 1980s, 1990s, and
even 2000s, many economists failed to detect behind the formal indicators the pro-
found changes in the Third World that prepared for fundamental changes and the
onset of the Great Convergence. In the meantime, as one can see from the fi gures in
this chapter, the symptoms of the movement from the trend of the Great Divergence
toward the Great Convergence already became apparent in the 1960s and 1970s. In
Chap. 4 we demonstrate how much the process of the Great Convergence has
advanced by now.
6
6 With its development the Great Convergence (like other similar comparable global processes)
becomes a more and more complex process. In fact, at present we can talk not about a single group
of developing countries (the Third World), but rather about a number of groups that differ in terms
of levels and potentials of their development. Accordingly, within these groups, development pro-
ceeds rather unevenly. In the third chapter we offer a comparative analysis across Asian, African,
Latin American, and Western welfare states, focused on a systematic comparison between the
First, Second, Third, and Fourth (the “Bottom Billion”) World. It shows that the widely used divi-
sion of the world into the developed and developing countries becomes more and more obsolete
every year. However, for a better understanding of how the processes of convergence and new
divergence (among the middle income economies and low income countries) unfold, it is necessary
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
11
Chapter 4 ( The Great Convergence and Globalization: How Former Colonies
Became the World Economic Locomotives ). Quite paradoxically, retrospectively
one can trace the beginning of the process of the Great Convergence already in the
nineteenth century when the European and Western domination seemed to have
become overwhelming. The main reason of such a change was the necessity to sup-
port the Western industrial output and export of goods. However, as it was said
above, this change caused a demand for the increase of the export of capital and
technologies to the non-European countries. As a result, these encouraged both the
growth of national movements for political and economic independence and the rise
of a stratum of entrepreneurs with new business ethics. In the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, the increasing export of British and European capital also
marked the start of the formation of the contemporary World System. The chapter
traces the development of a number of colonial and dependent countries, the impacts
of the two world wars on this process, as well as the collapse of the colonial system.
We describe in detail the various factors that contributed to the process of conver-
gence. We also offer a detailed analysis of the development of views on this conver-
gence and explain why Western economists actually overlooked it.
Chapter 5 ( Afterword : The Great Convergence and Possible Increase in Global
Instability, or the World without an Absolute Leader ). We want the fi nal chapter of
the present monograph not just to summarize our research; we would also like to
offer forecasts of the geopolitical and geo-economic development of the world in
the forthcoming decades on the basis of the proposed theory (which, incidentally,
accounts for the concluding chapter’s title). One of the important lessons that we
have learnt is that, on the one hand, in the foreseeable future, we will observe the
processes of economic and socio-cultural convergence between developing and
developed countries, and, consequently, the reduction of poverty and illiteracy in
many developing countries. However, on the other hand, this process will not go
smoothly and without any setbacks; what is more, it will require a deep reconfi gura-
tion of the World System. This may mean a possible increase in instability and
intensity of crises in the world in the forthcoming decades. Instability will be
expressed globally due to increased confrontation and the search for a new balance
of power and new alliances; but it will also be manifested at regional and national
levels, due to the fact that the increased level of technology, culture and expectations
may enter into confl ict with the existing shortcomings of social and state systems,
inequality and injustice. Of course, there are a number of other factors that can
increase instability—like the upsetting of ethnic balance in the USA and European
countries or the growth of national consciousness and anti-globalization feelings in
those world regions that have been only weakly touched by the globalization pro-
cesses by now. The problem of instability in the foreseeable future is closely linked
to clarify the structure of the modern convergence, to elucidate the peculiarities of the world’s
countries distribution according to their GDP, per capita incomes and other important parameters.
To a large extent this task is performed by a Statistical addendum (“On the Structure of the Present-
Day Convergence”) to Chap.
3 . In the fi fth chapter we also discuss the processes of divergence
between the non-Western countries.
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
12
with the need to search for the principles of the new world order, as the change in
the balance of economic forces in connection with the Great Convergence and
increasing globalization will inevitably pose such a problem. However, it is impor-
tant to note that future instability and clash of forces in the global fi eld is likely to
become noticeably dissimilar to the original confrontation between the First and
Third World, between the former imperial centers and their former colonies. Neither
will it be the clash of civilizations in Huntington’s sense (although the ethnic and
civilizational component will always be present in global tensions). It is the tension
between the old and new players on the “global chessboard”, which in the end (we
hope) will not be a fi eld of perpetual confrontation of geopolitical players, but, a
eld for the maintenance of a new fi eld and somewhat more equitable world order.
One of the novel ideas developed in the concluding chapter of this book is that the
passing of the USA’s hegemony will not lead to the emergence of a new global
hegemon. We believe that in a direct connection with the development of globaliza-
tion processes the hegemony cyclic pattern is likely to come to its end, which will
lead to a World System reconfi guration and the emergence of its new structure that
will allow the World System to continue its further development without a hege-
mon. We also suggest that the world middle class (that is growing primarily due to
the Great Convergence) may create new possibilities for the political globalization
and a fairer world order.
The Great Divergence and the Great Convergence are further scrutinized in the
appendices.
Appendix A ( Technological Innovation Activities in Britain and Other Western
Countries (1400–1900) : A Quantitative Analysis ) is devoted to the study of the
dynamics of technical inventions in Europe from the fi fteenth to the nineteenth cen-
turies. Our quantitative analysis suggests that it is much more productive to regard
the Industrial Revolution as a pan-European (or Western European) phenomenon,
whereas the industrial breakthrough of the second half of the eighteenth century was
just its fi nal, although extremely important part. In fact, we had to develop this per-
spective, since this aspect of research has been scarcely studied. Our analysis of the
technical innovation dynamics shows that:
rstly, the British lead began to show up only in the second half of the seven-
teenth century; before that time Britain had clearly lagged behind Italy and
Germany. Thus, during the two initial centuries of the Industrial Revolution
Britain absorbed the achievements of European societies, and only then did it
succeed to start its own innovative climb;
secondly, though we observe the British evident leadership in the technological
innovation from the second half of the seventeenth century to the fi rst half of the
nineteenth century, for a greater part of that period, the overall innovation activ-
ity of “the rest of the West” was higher than that of Britain. The primacy of
Britain in the fi eld of technological invention was absolute only during a rela-
tively short period in the second half of the eighteenth century and the early
nineteenth century—i.e., the period of the fi nal phase of the Industrial Revolution;
thirdly, by the fi rst half of the nineteenth century the British endogenous techno-
logical growth rate virtually stagnated against the background of a very fast
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
13
increase of those rates in France, Germany and the USA, as a result of which
those countries caught up with Britain in a rather signifi cant way. Incidentally, it
is just the ability of the other European countries to quickly adopt the achieve-
ments of the Industrial Revolution in England that confi rms the idea that the
Industrial Revolution was a European process (whereas Asian countries were
able to undertake their modernization much later and mostly with great
diffi culties);
fourthly, in the second half of the nineteenth century Britain fi nally lost its techno-
logical lead, as in the late nineteenth century the number of major inventions made
in the USA, Germany, and France exceeded the number of British inventions.
Appendix B ( A Mathematical Model of Great Divergence and Great
Convergence: Demography, Literacy, and the Spirit of Capitalism ) consists of three
sections. In its fi rst section (“Reconsidering Weber”) we study the main assump-
tions behind the proposed model. One can hardly speak about any single reason
which appeared to be the determinant of the change of the vector of development
from the Great Divergence to Great Convergence. If the task was to defi ne the most
important reason (or rather a set of reasons) then, in our opinion, it would consist of
the fact that the process of the growing connectedness of different countries aimed
at supporting further innovative development sooner or later would demand equal-
ization (at least to a certain level) of the developmental levels of different regions of
the world. One can call this a “law of communicative vessels” in the global econ-
omy (this idea is developed in much detail in Chap. 4 ). Up to a certain moment this
law did not work to its full extent as there were some social and cultural, and tech-
nological and political impediments required for its implementation. The fi rst sec-
tion of Appendix B demonstrates that the most important among these was the low
level of human capital development (and especially with regard to modern formal
education) in the World System periphery which did not allow any really effective
diffusion of capital and technologies from the World System core. It is demon-
strated with formal cross-national tests that during the period of the Great Divergence
these were the countries with higher levels of literacy that tended to join the club of
developed countries, as literate workers, soldiers, inventors and so on turned out to
be more effective than illiterate ones not only due to their ability to read instruc-
tions, manuals, and textbooks, but also because of the developed skills of abstract
thinking. By the way, this could explain to a considerable extent the differences
between the economic performance of the Protestants and the Catholics in the late
nineteenth–early twentieth centuries in Europe recognized by Weber. One of
Weber’s research goals was to show that religion can have independent infl uence on
economic processes. The results of our study support this point. Indeed, the spiritual
leaders of Protestantism persuaded their followers to read the Bible not to support
the economic growth but for religious reasons, which were formulated as a result of
ideological processes that were rather independent of economic life. We do not
question that specifi c features of Protestant ethics could have facilitated economic
development. However, we believe that we found another (and probably more
powerful) channel of Protestantism's infl uence on the economic growth of the
Western countries.
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
14
The second section (“A Mathematical Model of Great Divergence and Great
Convergence”) is devoted to the presentation of the model itself. As we said above
it is very important to comprehend the Great Divergence and the Great Convergence
as a single process. However, this idea demands examination in different dimen-
sions. In this section we propose a simple mathematical model that is capable of
describing mathematically both the process of the Great Divergence and the one of
the Great Convergence. In this two-component model, the world is divided into the
core and the periphery. For each of the two macro-zones the dynamics of three sub-
systems are modeled: (1) population; (2) the technological-economic sub-system;
(3) the education-cultural (human capital) subsystem. With regard to initial condi-
tions, the level of the development of sub-system 3 for the core is set to be signifi -
cantly higher than the one in the periphery. According to the model, the value of this
variable positively affects economic growth while it affects negatively population
growth (refl ecting the negative impact of the female education on fertility). On the
one hand, the model describes the technological transfer from the core to the periph-
ery (the catch-up term)—according to the model, the higher is the level of human
capital in the periphery, the easier that the technological transfer takes place; on the
other hand, the larger that the gap is between the core and the periphery, the higher
the value of the catch-up term is; hence, the catch-up force is a very low at the initial
phase with the very low level of human capital in the periphery. It becomes highest
at the advanced phase when a wide gap between the core and the periphery is com-
bined with a rather high level development of human capital in the periphery; and it
decreases again at the fi nal phase with the decrease of the gap between the devel-
oped and developing countries. Note also that within the model population growth
is assumed to be affected positively by economic growth, but economic growth
(both in the model and the real life) also promotes the development of education
that fi nally leads to the decline of population growth rates. Within the model, in the
rst phase the core’s GDP grows much faster than in the periphery because of the
high level of human capital in the core (which stimulates the economic growth
there) and the low level of human capital in the periphery (which inhibits both
endogenous economic growth and the diffusion of high technologies from the core).
Within the model this generates the Great Divergence. Note that at this phase within
the model the population in the core grows faster than in the periphery, because the
high economic growth rates outweigh there the infl uence of education that is not
high enough in the core to inhibit suffi ciently the population growth rates. In the
second phase, the economic growth rates in the periphery increase mainly due to the
development of the human capital there, as this promotes both endogenous eco-
nomic growth and the transfer of advanced technologies from the core. However, at
this phase the level of education in the periphery is not suffi ciently high enough to
decisively inhibit population growth and to raise economic growth rates to the core
countries’ levels; hence, in this phase economic growth in the periphery leads to a
very substantial population growth, but as regards the GDP per capita, the gap
between the core and the periphery continues to increase. Finally, in the third phase,
human capital in the periphery develops to such an extent that it allows the periph-
eral states simultaneously to achieve both substantially higher endogenous economic
1 Introduction. And Yet the Twain Meet: Great Convergence Brings the East Closer…
15
growth rates, and very high levels of technological transfers (refl ected in the high
value of the catch- up term), and a signifi cant slowdown of population growth rates.
As a result, in the third phase the GDP per capita growth rates of the periphery start
to exceed substantially the ones of the core, and, as a result, the explicit Great
Convergence begins within the model (note that the model also describes the fourth
phase when the convergence rate slows down due to the reduction of the gap
between the developing and developed countries, which leads to the decrease of the
value of the catch-up term).
The dynamics generated by the model demonstrate a rather good fi t with histori-
cal data, which supports the idea that the Great Divergence and the Great
Convergence can be treated as a single process. The model also allows us to develop
a forecast that suggests that the Great Convergence process will continue in the
forthcoming decades, though its rate will experience a defi nite slowdown. Note also
that the model suggests that we should expect a rather high correlation between the
gap in GDP per capita between the First and Third World, on the one hand, and the
growth rates of world population, on the other.
The empirical test that we have performed in the third section of the appendix
(“Phases of Global Demographic Transition Correlate with Phases of the Great
Divergence and Great Convergence”) has rather unequivocally supported this
hypothesis confi rming the idea that the Great Divergence and Great Convergence
constitute two phases of a single Global Modernization process being tightly inter-
twined with the other dimensions of Global Modernization. In fact, the correlation
has turned out even stronger than we expected. We can hardly say that the dynamics
of the Great Divergence and Great Convergence are determined entirely by the
dynamics of the global demographic transition. The onset of the modernization pro-
cess, including the reorganization of politics, economy, and social life, occurred due
to many factors. However, we are quite ready to claim that, once begun, the impact
of modernization on incomes was strongly dependent on the timing of the phases of
the demographic transition in different regions. The dynamics of global population
growth and the Great Divergence and Great Convergence therefore may be consid-
ered to be so closely coupled as to be two sides of the same coin. Note also that our
empirical analysis has confi rmed the accuracy of interaction between the phases of
the global demographic transition, the Great Divergence, and the Great Convergence
generated by the mathematical model presented in this Appendix.
Great Convergence in the Past and in the Future
17© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
L. Grinin, A. Korotayev, Great Divergence and Great Convergence,
International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17780-9_2
Chapter 2
Great Divergence and the Rise of the West
In this chapter we will analyze those factors that allowed the West to overtake the
East in the Modern Period, as well as those factors that put in motion the Great
Divergence process. This necessitates the consideration of certain aspects of the
development of the East and the West since the mid-fi fteenth century (and even
earlier in some respects) till the late twentieth century.
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe
As is widely accepted at present, by the early second millennium CE Europe lagged
far behind the main eastern countries in terms of development of the productive
forces, statehood, urbanization, consumer culture, scientifi c achievements and other
relevant parameters (e.g., Crone 1989 ; Abu-Lughod 1991 ; Pomeranz 2000 ;
Maddison 2001 , 2010 ; Christian 2004 ; Goldstone 2009a ; Lucas 2005 ; Saliba 2007 ;
Reinert 2007 ; Vries 2013 ), whereas, according to some estimates, the per capita
GDP in the advanced economies of the East was at least twice as high as in Western
Europe (e.g., Мельянцев 1996 : 74). According to some other estimates, even in the
eleventh century, Western Europe did not reach the level of production of the fi rst
century CE Roman Empire (e.g., Cameron 1989 ; Maddison 2001 , 2010 ). The items
that prevailed within the export of European countries to the East were fur, silver,
and timber (Abu-Lughod 1991 : 47; Postan 1987 ). Eastern Europe, in addition to
valuable furs, also exported honey and wax, as well as skins, and considerable num-
bers of slaves (Gieysztor 1987 ; Postan 1987 ; Ali 1999 ), whereas the Eastern exports
to Europe consisted mostly of fi nished industrial (handicraft) products and luxury
goods (Abu-Lughod 1991 : 47; Postan 1987 ; Ali 1999 ). In short, in the early second
millennium CE Europe looked like a backward periphery of the Asian and North
African core.
18
Consider specially, how Europe, that is Western Europe or the “West”, lagged
behind “the East” as regards such an extremely important indicator as the intensity
of innovation in science and technology. In order to insure the compatibility of the
analysis results we will use here and elsewhere
1 the database on scientifi c discover-
ies and technological inventions created by Hellemans and Bunch ( 1988 ). To start
with, consider the levels of innovation activity in the East and the West during the
rst eleven centuries CE (Fig. 2.1 ):
As we see, in the early fi rst millennium CE the levels of innovative activities in
the East and the West were rather comparable. Both in the East and in the West the
World System crisis that started in the second half of the second century CE with the
Antonin Plague” pandemic (see, e.g., Korotayev 2006 ) led to a very signifi cant
decrease of the rate of innovation within science and technology. However, in the
second half of the fi rst millennium in the East (but not in the West) one could
observe a rather signifi cant increase in the number of serious inventions and dis-
coveries; as a result, the East managed to recover its scientifi c-technological activity
to the pre-crisis level—and to exceed it substantially by the eleventh century.
As regards this indicator, in the fi rst eleven centuries CE one can observe a rather
clear divergence between Europe, on the one hand, and Asia and North Africa, on
the other (and not in favor of Europe), which, no doubt, contributed rather strongly
1 With some exceptions that will be mentioned specially below.
0
5
10
15
20
25
0 200 400 600 800 1000
West East
Fig. 2.1 Inventions and discoveries in the West and the East per century, 11100 CE (The
Divergence of the fi rst millennium CE). Note : For the period between 1 and 1000 CE the diagram
indicates the average number of inventions and discoveries made per century within the respective
pair of centuries. For example, the number “11” corresponding to the European datapoint for year
100 indicates that the average number of inventions and discoveries made in the fi rst and second
centuries CE was 11. Two last datapoints (at 1050 CE) correspond to the number of inventions and
discoveries made in Europe and the East in the eleventh century
2 Great Divergence and the Rise of the West
19
to the retardation of the West (in comparison with the East) that became so salient
by the eleventh century CE.
However, while Europe lagged far behind Asia, by the eleventh century it had
some potential advantages—fi rst of all, it had more stimuli to invest in labor-saving
technologies, and it was better provided with sources of energy (e.g., Chaunu 1979 ;
Wigelsworth 2006 ). Of course, those potential benefi ts could be realized only under
certain conditions. Such conditions began to take shape in Europe in the centuries
that followed; an important role was played by the readiness of some Western
European societies to borrow technologies from the East and to improve them. At
the same time in the East in the Early Modern Period, even long-known methods of
mechanization could not be applied widely, and their application even sometimes
declined (see, for example, Ванина 1991 : 96–98 with respect to India; Landes 2006
about China, and Allen 2011 as regards Japan).
Technical and Scientifi c Upswing of the Late Medieval Period in Europe and
the Question of the “Early Industrial Revolution” In the period between 1100
and 1400, but especially in the fi fteenth and sixteenth centuries, the European labor-
saving tendencies became implemented to a suffi ciently large degree (see, about the
sixteenth and the next centuries, e.g., Huang 2002 ), which resulted in a fairly rapid
development of technologies and a number of key inventions (more about them see
below and also in Fig. 2.2 ) and the development of the process of division of labor.
This technological upswing that took place in Europe between 1100 and 1600 was
noticed long ago—back in the 1930s—starting with the work of Lewis Mumford
( 1934 ), Bloch ( 1935 ), Carus-Wilson ( 1941 ) and was actively studied by economic
historians in around 1950–1980 (Lilley 1976 ; Forbes 1956 ; Armytage 1961 ; Gille
1969 ; White 1978 ; Gimpel 1992 ; see also Hill 1955 ; Johnson 1955 ; Bernal 1965 ;
Braudel 1973 ; see Lucas 2005 for more details). This period also quite rightly con-
sidered as the time of scientifi c breakthrough, or rather a number of revolutionary
breakthroughs in such areas as mathematics, astronomy, geography, cartography,
etc. (see, e.g., Singer 1941 ).
The analysis of the Hellemans—Bunch database may suggest that with respect
to scientifi c-technological growth rates the West caught up with the East as early as
in the twelfth century, whereas in the second half of the thirteenth century the West
might have already somehow outrun the East (see Fig. 2.2 ).
However, one should take at this point into account the following consideration.
The point is that, starting from the twelfth century, Hellemans and Bunch appear to
have become obsessed with the registration of the explosively growing stream of the
European inventions, and that is why they start to pay much less attention to the
registration of the Eastern scientifi c-technological innovations. That is why there is
good cause to suppose that the decline of the scientifi c-technological activity rates
suggested by Fig. 2.2 may actually be an artefact of such an underregistration. In
this respect, it has turned out to be necessary to use a data survey on the dynamics
of the number of innovations in science and technology in China in the period
between the tenth and nineteenth centuries (Goldstone 2009a : 122).
2 Its application
2 Note that in his turn Goldstone based himself on the survey produced by Li and Soylu ( 2004 ).
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe
20
produces the following result (see Fig. 2.3 ) that appears more reliable than the one
presented above in Fig. 2.2 .
According to these data, Europe failed to outrun China (as regards scientifi c-
technological growth rates) not only in the twelfth or thirteenth, but even in four-
teenth century. On the other hand, the fi gures above suggest a rather vigorous
acceleration of those rates in Europe in the twelfth century with one more such
acceleration in the thirteenth century (when Medieval Europe produced its fi rst par-
adigm changing inventions—initially, the invention of the spectacles and the
mechanical clock).
Thus, it is clear that the theory of early industrial revolutions that preceded the
Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century has rather solid foundations (Lilley
1976 ; Forbes 1956 ; Armytage 1961 ; Gille 1969 ; White 1978 ; Gimpel 1992 ; Lucas
2005 ; see also Hill 1955 ; Johnson 1955 ; Bernal 1965 ; Braudel 1973 ]). However,
later this theory was (without any reasonable grounds) relegated to the periphery of
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
1000 1050 1100 1150 1200 1250 1300 1350 1400
Europe The East
Fig. 2.2 Inventions and discoveries in Europe and the East per half a century, 10001400
CE. Note : each datapoint indicates the number of inventions and discoveries made in a respective
half of a century. For example, the number “14” corresponding to the European datapoint for the
year 1325 indicates that the number of inventions and discoveries made between 1300 and 1350 in
Europe was 14. Data source : Hellemans and Bunch ( 1988 )
2 Great Divergence and the Rise of the West
21
the historical mainstream (for example, researchers belonging to the California
School hardly mention the early European industrial revolution). However, ignoring
the early European industrial revolution, we believe, appears to be counterproduc-
tive in solving many important problems, including the search for reasons why the
Industrial Revolution occurred in Britain (see below for more details). In addition,
this question is somewhat artifi cially separated from the more general question
about the causes of the technological breakthrough in the West in the Early Modern
Period. Our view is that the idea of the early industrial revolution in explanatory
terms is very useful, but it requires its own conceptual development from a perspec-
tive that allows treating this early revolution not so much as a separate isolated
phenomenon, but as the initial phase of the Industrial Revolution. Then in fact the
industrial breakthrough of the eighteenth century must be regarded as the fi nal
phase of the Industrial Revolution. We would say that the Industrial Revolution
continued for at least three centuries; and against the background of many millennia
that preceded those three centuries—this was a rather short, quite revolutionary
period.
Very schematically, this approach may be outlined as follows. The period
between 1100 and 1450 may be regarded as a preparatory period of the Industrial
Revolution with quite a vivid manifestation of early capitalist relations and forms of
production in some regions of Europe (Northern Italy, Southern Germany, the
Netherlands, Southern France (see, e.g., Pirenne 1920 –1932; Wallerstein 1974 ;
Postan 1987 ; Мильская and Рутенбург 1991 ; Lucas 2005 ).
The period from the late fi fteenth century till the early seventeenth century (often
denoted as “the long sixteenth century”) is the initial phase of the Industrial
Revolution, associated with the development of navigation, engineering and the
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400
Europe
China
Fig. 2.3 Number of innovations in science and technology in Europe and China per half a century,
900–1400 CE. Data sources : Hellemans and Bunch ( 1988 ) and Goldstone ( 2009a : 122)
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe
22
mechanization on the watermill basis, the diffusion and the improvement of differ-
ent machines, and the development of division of labor. At this time, in different
parts of Europe, there were signifi cant breakthroughs in a variety of directions,
which by the end of the period are synthesized into the general Western European
system (Johnson 1955 ; Braudel 1973 ; Wallerstein 1974 ; Барг 1993 ; Ястребицкая
1993б ; Davis 1996 ). Changes in one country tended to produce substantial impact
on the economy and the lives in other countries—through the spread of innovations,
through the publication of special technical books, through the movement of techni-
cal experts to different countries, through the introduction of various advances and
innovations by kings and emperors to their realms, etc. Thus, we fi nd impressive
achievements in the fi eld of mechanization in mining operations in Southern
Germany and Bohemia; major contributions to the development of navigation, geo-
graphical discoveries and world trade accomplished by the Spanish and Portuguese,
but also by the British; signifi cant developments of technologies of manufacturing
in Italian and Flemish cities; signifi cant shifts in agriculture in Northern France and
the Netherlands; important scientifi c and mathematical discoveries made by scien-
tists in Italy, France, Poland, England; and fi nally, new fi nancial technologies devel-
oped in Italy (Hale 1993 ; Davis 1996 , 2001 ; Collins and Taylor 2006 ; Goldstone
2009a , 2012b ; Ferguson 2011 ; Porter 2012 ). But all of this, anyway, quickly became
the common heritage of Europe.
The period from the early seventeenth century to the second third of the eigh-
teenth century is the middle phase, when one could observe the formation of a
complex industrial sector and the capitalist economy with increased mechanization
and the deepening division of labor. This is the age of trade leadership by the Dutch,
the successor to the hegemony of Spain and Portugal. The Netherlands created an
unprecedented industry of shipbuilding, mechanized port facilities and fi shing
(Boxer 1965 ; Jones 1996 ; de Vries and van der Woude 1997 ; Rietbergen 2002 ;
Israel 1995 ; Allen 2009 ). But the seventeenth century was a century of very large
changes in military technology, science, and engineering; whereas as a result of
wars and other processes the Netherlands lost its leadership, which was gradually
moving to Britain (Rayner 1964 ; Boxer 1965 ; Snooks 1997 ; Jones 1996 ; de Vries
and van der Woude 1997 ; Rietbergen 2002 ).
Finally, the period between 1760 and 1830 may be identifi ed as the fi nal phase of
the Industrial Revolution, which was also accompanied by the creation of the sec-
tors of the machine cycle of production and the use of steam power. Although
Britain was here clearly the leader, we also observe in this period a number of
important processes that can be identifi ed as pan-European (including the develop-
ment of military technology, trade, science, pan-European commercial and indus-
trial crisis of the second half of the eighteenth century, the beginning of the
demographic transition—see below). In this concept, we clearly see in the Industrial
Revolution the result of the collective achievements of different societies of Europe,
a sort of relay-race of achievements (see also Appendix A).
Three Peaks of the Filling of the Ecological Niche: 1300–1880
The recent
research (whether it belongs to the California School, or not) justly pays much
2 Great Divergence and the Rise of the West
23
attention to the standards of living in different periods and in different countries
(Allen 2009 , 2011 ; Clark 2007 ; Pomeranz 2000 ; Huang 2002 ; Goldstone 2009a ;
Vries 2013 ). However, in our view, it is not completely correct to reduce all the
measurement of pre-industrial history to the assessment of quality of living [as is
done, for example, by Clark ( 2007 )], presenting this assessment in the form of a
Sisyphean labor of technological progress in the fi ght against the Malthusian Trap,
when all the societies’ efforts were in vain, as the growth of the population “ate” the
growth of production. Clark ( 2007 ) has repeatedly pointed out that in 1500–1800
the standard of living (or rather the workers’ wages) fl uctuated below the fi fteenth
century level that emerged after the fourteenth century Black Death. He uses this to
support an idea that there was no real economic growth until the early nineteenth
century, as any economic growth that is not resulted in the growth of the standards
of living cannot be regarded as real. He does not seem to see the connection between
population growth and qualitative development including the growth of sociocul-
tural complexity. We believe that in terms of macroevolutionary approach what was
more important for the industrial breakthrough of the ongoing Industrial Revolution
was not the rise of the standards of living, but rather simply population growth that
also stimulated the development of institutions and the statehood, systems of knowl-
edge, social culture, and methods of preventing mass disasters (such as counter-
epidemic measures, public grain stocks, etc.). On the other hand, the development
of institutions and the suffi cient complexity of social systems are essential for any
signifi cant sustained population growth.
The Neolithic (agricultural) revolution allowed human populations to move very
signifi cantly over the naturally determined carrying capacity limit, to widen their
ecological niches through various technological innovations, which (in combination
with the development of complex sociopolitical structures) already present in the
pre-Industrial era resulted in the formation of societies with populations in the
millions, dozens of millions, and even hundreds of millions. Yes, in the pre-Industrial
epoch there was no continuous sustained growth as regards per capita calorie con-
sumption or the diet quality of the majority of population, but there was very
considerable growth as regards the global population and global GDP (e.g.,
Maddison 2001 , 2010 ; Korotayev et al. 2006a ; Livi-Bacci 2012 ). According to vari-
ous estimates, the world population increased from 225–300 million in the fi rst
century AD to almost a billion people by 1800 (Durand 1960 ; McEvedy and Jones
1978 ; North 1993 ; Kremer 1993 ; Maddison 2001 , 2010 ; Korotayev et al. 2006a ;
Livi-Bacci 2012 ; Grinin et al. 2013 ). In our opinion, from general evolutionary per-
spective, the Industrial Revolution, in principle, could not begin until the world
population had reached a high enough level. Indeed, when there were signifi cant
reserves of the territory in which the surplus population could move, there was no
need for radical change in the type of production that existed. This type of produc-
tion could not change radically until the world population (together with production
and trade) had reached a certain critical level. Clark ( 2007 : 318) wonders why the
Industrial Revolution could not happen in ancient Babylonia around 1800 BCE or
in ancient Greece around 500 BCE. In fact, it could not happen there, because a
critical mass of population and technologies that was necessary for the Industrial
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe
24
Revolution had not accumulated to any suffi cient extent either by 1800 BCE, or by
500 BCE.
Only the fi lling of the global ecological niche and the simultaneous fi lling of the
global political niche (that is the coexistence of a large number of highly complex
polities having suffi ciently close contacts with each other) led to a suffi cient intensifi -
cation of production, and consequently a suffi cient need in innovations (Grinin 2008a ,
2011a , 2012a ; Grinin and Korotayev 2006 ; Korotayev and Grinin 2006 , 2012a ).
However, after the fi lling of a given niche, the transition to a new higher attractor
does not happen automatically. In some cases (that are much more frequent) the
lling of an ecological niche resulted in socio-demographic collapses (see, e.g.,
Turchin 2003 , 2005 ; Turchin and Korotayev 2006 ; Turchin and Nefedov 2009 ;
Korotayev and Komarova 2004 ; Korotayev et al. 2006b ; Korotayev and Khaltourina
2006 ; Korotayev et al. 2011a , b ; Grinin 2012b ), and only in very rare cases did the
transition to a new higher attractor take place (Korotayev et al. 2006b ; Grinin 2012a ,
b ). In this regard, if we look at the dynamics of the population in Europe, then we
can talk about three peaks, and three evolutionary attempts to escape from the
Malthusian trap and to move to a new type of economy.
According to some estimates, by 1300 the population of Western Europe had
reached the level of 55–60 million, in 1500 (after the catastrophic depopulation
produced by the Black Death and subsequent recovery) it turned out to be basically
the same— c . 55–60 million, but by 1600 it increased to 70–75 million. In Europe
(as well as in most other parts of the world) the population growth rates declined
very substantially (sometimes even to negative values) in the seventeenth century
(see, e.g., Parker 2013 ), however, they accelerated rather signifi cantly in the eigh-
teenth century, and by 1800 the population of Western Europe reached the level of
115–120 million (Clark 1968 : 64; Russell 1972 ; Cipolla 1972 : 36, 1981 : 4; Maddison
1991 : 226–227, 2001 , 2010 ; McEvedy and Jones 1978 : 49, 51, 107) (see Fig. 2.4 ).
Thus, after 1300 one could observe the fi rst attempt to surpass the carrying
capacity ceiling that resulted in socio-demographic collapse in connection with the
Black Death epidemic, crop failures, socio-political destabilization, and also the
change of climate that became colder and moister (Flohn and Fantechi 1984 : 37, 39;
McNeill 1998 ; Клименко 2009 ; Livi-Bacci 2012 ); the decline of population in
England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy between 1347 and the fi rst half of the
fteenth century is estimated at 30–40 % (Livi-Bacci 2012 : 44).
3
However, this socio-demographic collapse was not a complete return to the old,
but an important transition that strengthened labor-saving processes, started the
process of technological innovation, and paved the way for the start of the industrial
revolution (Herlihy 1997 ). The beginning of the next evolutionary attempt can be
dated to the end of the fi fteenth century, when we fi nd in Europe approximately the
same population as two centuries before. As a result, one can speak about the start
3 “There are no precise data on the scale of the decline between the period before 1348 and the
population nadir reached during the fi rst half of the fi fteenth century, but a loss of 30–40 % is cor-
roborated by local studies in Piedmont and Tuscany, and in France, Spain, England, and Germany”
(Livi-Bacci 2012 : 44).
2 Great Divergence and the Rise of the West
25
of the Industrial Revolution since the late fi fteenth century. This attempt to get out
of the Malthusian trap was more (but not yet fully) successful than the previous one,
thanks to innovations in agriculture, protoglobalization, and the rapid growth of
international trade (Гринин et al. 2009 ; Гринин and Коротаев 2012 ). A time
around 1750 can be considered as the beginning of the third evolutionary attempt,
which ended with the industrial breakthrough and—fi nally—secured the escape
from the Malthusian trap (for more details on those three attempts see Мельянцев
1996 : 99). 4
The Period Between 1400 and 1800: Divergence or Convergence Between
Europe and Asia? In the nineteenth century the Industrial Revolution put into
motion the process of the Great Divergence, which lasted for more than a century.
The Great Divergence led to the predominance of the West as regards almost all the
standard indicators (except population)—thus it is possible to speak of a compre-
hensive divergence. However, the process of divergence began several centuries
before this, when the West was in some ways ahead of Asia, in some other ways the
West was standing with Asia at approximately the same level, and as regards a
number of important parameters, the West still lagged behind the East. Therefore,
the process of divergence at this time did not cover all dimensions, but only some of
them (such as, say, military and technological development, science, methods and
the scope of dissemination of information, etc.). In the Early Modern Period, some
technological points in which the West was ahead of the East, were not too signifi -
cant for the economy as a whole (such as larger scale of application of “inorganic”
energy), but later their importance increased.
4 It should be also noted (though it goes beyond the scope of our research) that all three picks of the
lling of the ecological niche, as well as their regression, were connected with the climate change
(e.g., Flohn and Fantechi 1984 ; Мельянцев 1996 : 85–88; Клименко 2009 ; Parker 2013 ).
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
1000 1200 1400 1600 1800
Millions
Fig. 2.4 Population dynamics of Western Europe, millions, 1000–1800
A General Analysis of the Development of Asia and Europe