Jan Luiten van Zanden

Jan Luiten van Zanden is Professor of Economic History at Utrecht University, and senior researcher at the International Institute of Social History. He has published on the economic history of western Europe and Indonesia, and on global economic history and business history. Between 1998 and 2006, he served as Secretary-General of the International Economic History Association, and he is currently Vice-President of the International Economic History Association (IEHA).

Papers Published in World Economics:

What Makes Maddison Right

The ‘Great Divergence debate’ in economic history relates to the question of when China fell behind the levels of well-being in Western Europe. A recent paper published in this journal argues that existing historical data cannot answer this question and criticizes estimates of Angus Maddison of GDP per capita based on limited evidence. The authors believe, in contrast, that critiques, assessments and summaries on the state of the Great Divergence debate even if flawed are in the original spirit of the Maddison research. Maddison’s work is less about right or wrong than about trying to achieve better or best estimates by overcoming the current constraint on data and methodologies over time.

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Global Income Distribution and Convergence 1820–2003

Can the development of the world economy – the growth of global gross domestic product and the increase in global inequality – in the period from 1820 to 2003 be understood as the result of the spread of one fundamental ‘innovation’, the Industrial Revolution? This paper tries to establish how the ‘convergence club’ evolves over time (which countries become a member, when and why), and what determinants (institutional and geographical) have affected this process. At first sight, both types of factor prove important, but once the endogeneity of institutions is taken care of, we find that spatial determinants prevail.

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