Global Inequality Global Inequality

This project aims to set up a data-infrastructure for the study of long term economic change in the world economy in the past 4-5 centuries, with special focus on the most recent 200 years - the period of the Great Divergence. This idea is that new theoretical developments (New Institutional Economics, New Economic Geography and New/Unified Growth Theory) have greatly increased our understanding of the long term dynamics of the wold economy this period, but that we need more and better data to really test and refine the new ideas and hypotheses. At the same time, economic historians are doing much new work on the measurement of economic performance and its (ultimate) determinants, such as, for example, the synthesis produced by Angus Maddison of economic growth in the world economy in the past 2000 years. His synthesis shows that there is an enormous need for large datasets covering long time periods - but we need similar synthetic work on other indicators of economic performance and on the related developments in institutions, human capital formation, geography and demography, to really explain the trends found by Maddison and others. The aim of the proposal is to create a dataset - modelled after Maddison's overview of GDP growth between 1000 and 2000 - which contains the most important data that are needed to test and refine the new theoretical insights from NEI, NEG and UGT, in order to satisfactorily explain the genesis of the Great Divergence before 1800, and the spread of industrialization and economic growth in the world economy between 1800 and 2000. More details on the project are to be found at