This setting lets you change the way you view articles. You can choose to have articles open in a dialog window, a new tab, or directly in the same window.
Open in Dialog
Open in New Tab
Open in same window

Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 52 No. 1 (March 2014)

Expand

Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)

Explore:

JEL - All Issues

JEL Forthcoming Articles JEL Indexes (Members Only)

From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History behind China's Economic Boom

Article Citation

Brandt, Loren, Debin Ma, and Thomas G. Rawski. 2014. "From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History behind China's Economic Boom." Journal of Economic Literature, 52(1): 45-123.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.52.1.45

Abstract

China's long-term economic dynamics pose a formidable challenge to economic historians. The Qing Empire (1644-1911), the world's largest national economy before 1800, experienced a tripling of population during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with no signs of diminishing per capita income. While the timing remains in dispute, a vast gap emerged between newly rich industrial nations and China's lagging economy in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Only with an unprecedented growth spurt beginning in the late 1970s did this great divergence separating China from the global leaders substantially diminish, allowing China to regain its former standing among the world's largest economies. This essay develops an integrated framework for understanding that entire history, including both the divergence and the recent convergent trend. We explain how deeply embedded political and economic institutions that contributed to a long process of extensive growth before 1800 subsequently prevented China from capturing the benefits associated with the Industrial Revolution. During the twentieth century, the gradual erosion of these historic constraints and of new obstacles erected by socialist planning eventually opened the door to China's current boom. Our analysis links China's recent development to important elements of its past, while using recent success to provide fresh perspectives on the critical obstacles undermining earlier modernization efforts, and their eventual removal.

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article

Additional Materials

Authors

Brandt, Loren (U Toronto)
Ma, Debin (London School of Economics and Political Science and Shanghai U Finance and Economics)
Rawski, Thomas G. (U Pittsburgh)

JEL Classifications

N15: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: Asia including Middle East
N45: Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: Asia including Middle East
O11: Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
O47: Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
P21: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Planning, Coordination, and Reform
P24: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: National Income, Product, and Expenditure; Money; Inflation
P26: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Political Economy; Property Rights


Journal of Economic Literature


Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)

Explore:

JEL - All Issues

JEL - Forthcoming Articles

JEL Indexes (Members Only)


Virtual Field Journals


AEA Member Login:


AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us