Divergence and convergence: New and shifting paradigms in comparative economic history
Our understanding of comparative economic development has been heightened by recent advances in the historical literature, particularly in the Great Divergence debate. Broad geographical comparisons, extended time periods, and the diverse and contested tools of measurement have all enriched the context of the comparative literature. Revisiting the discussion of causality - long-term preconditions versus shorter-term contingencies - provides additional insights into the volition of human actors, especially households and governments. It also helps to unpack the nature of 'institutions', a term that has suffered from bifurcation into good or bad and whose deeper components have been insufficiently analysed.