The Emergence of the World Economy: Towards a Historical Perspective, 1000-1750

Findlay, Ronald E.

This paper presents a historical perspective on the emergence of the world economy from 1000-1750 A.D., in the spirit of F. Mauro's (1961) "intercontinental model." Mauro envisaged a generalized inter-regional input-output table, with five continents as the regions. World economic history could thus be conceived as the task of filling up these cells with the corresponding flows of exports, imports and movements of factors and precious metals between them and charting their evolution over time. The level of aggregation for the flows in question would of course depend on data availability and analytical tractability. While analysis and interpretation of what makes the flows change over time and what explains their structure at any given moment would depend on one's theoretical presumptions, and hence be a matter of controversy, one would at least hope for agreement on assembling the information itself, though much guesswork and estimation would have to be involved, particularly of earlier centuries. While I cannot even begin to initiate such an approach in the present paper, my subsequent observations will be in the spirit of striving towards it as a goal. At the very least such an approach would force us to think about simultaneity and interdependence in the world economy and not fall victim to the parochialism of space and time as we are prone to do from the various "national" standpoints, which is the usual perspective in economic history.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 9596-08
Published Here
March 2, 2011


April 1996