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The Arab World, China, And Japan

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Chapter Summary

Europe lagged behind other centres of civilization such as the Middle East, where a new wave of economic dynamism was unleashed by Islam, and China, where under the Sung, the empire was experiencing an unprecedented economic boom. Eight hundred years later, there is no doubt that Western Europe had become the most dynamic part of the world economy. But was it also more prosperous than China or Japan, or did the 'Great Divergence' only occur after 1800? The chapter addresses this and other such questions. It also focuses on the consequences of different sets of institutions for long-term economic growth. The comparison between Western Europe on the one hand, and the Arab World and China on the other hand, suggests that the Latin West, after having been a marginal part of the world economy before 1000, was able to catch up quickly during the High Middle Ages.

Keywords: Arab World; China; Japan; Western Europe

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