Economic growth in history

Lecturer Federico Giovanni – Nuvolari Alessandro
Semester Fall

This course examines how the world economy got to be where it is today. In
particular, the course will focus on the divergence between rich and poor
countries, provide an assessment of the factors explaining the success of rich
countries and the obstacles hindering growth in poor countries. In this
respect, the course will examine the role played both by “proximate” and
“ultimate” sources of economic growth. The former refers to direct
determinants of economic performance such as capital, labour and technical
progress, while the latter refers to “deep” casual factors with long term
historical roots such as geography, culture and institutions. Finally, special
attention will be devoted to quantitative assessments of long term trends in
living standards and in economic performance across the world economy.

Course outline
1. Economic growth and living standards in the very long run (10000
BC -2011 AD)
2. The Malthusian trap and the long term stagnation in living standards
3. The foundations of European “exceptionalism”
4. The long term dynamics of economic globalization
5. The great divergence: when and why the West grow rich
6. The industrial revolution and the take-off towards “modern
economic growth”
7. The productivity race: convergence and divergence in the world
economic since the industrial revolution