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The West and the Rest in the World Economy: 1000–2030
World Economics, December 2008
This paper analyses the forces determining per capita income levels of nations over the past millennium and the prospects to 2030. In the year 1000 AD, Asian countries were in the lead. By 1820, per capita GDP in Western Europe and the US was twice the Asian average. The divergence had grown much bigger by 1950, but by the 1970s, several Asian countries – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – had achieved considerable catch up. Since then, there has been a major surge in China and the beginning of a similar phenomenon in India. As a result, the Asian share of world income has risen steadily and, by 2030, will be fairly close to what it was in 1820. Maddison concludes by comparing his analysis with the Malthusian interpretation of Oded Galor.
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