you had been alive at the start of the eighteenth century, your material
well-being would have been much the same whichever region of the world you
lived in, and it would almost certainly have been a precarious existence. Go back 300 years before the eighteenth
century, and not much was different. But
come forward 300 years to the present, and we see a startling transformation.
in some parts of the world have increased more than ten-fold; and now it most
certainly does matter where you live – with income differentials of 50 times
between the world’s richest and poorest countries. What has changed in the past 300 years is the
development and application of new technologies at a pace unprecedented in
human history – the steam engine, electricity and the computer, to name just a
few. With these developments, for those
who have access to them, have come huge gains in living standards.
this course we’ll explore the spectacular (but uneven) story of economic
development – beginning with the Malthusian era, moving on to the take-off of
growth in the Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence in living
standards that followed, and finishing in the present with the Global Financial
Crisis. We’ll cover the main episodes
and events in the development of the world economy in the past 300 years, and
have something to say about most regions of the world. As well as dealing with ‘what happened’, the
course will emphasise what is known about ‘why’ – and what lessons historical
experience can provide for understanding how some countries today are so rich
yet others remain so poor.