Jan Luiten van Zanden

Jan Luiten van ZandenJan Luiten van Zanden is professor of global economic history at Utrecht University and was between 2011 and 2015 honorary Angus Maddison professor at Groningen University. He published widely on long term economic growth in the world economy, including How Was Life? Global Well-Being since 1820. With Joerg Baten, Marco Mira d’Ercole, Auke Rijpma, Conal Smith and Marcel Timmer (Eds.). Paris: OECD, 2014.

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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