The Economic History Review

Progress and poverty in early modern Europe

Volume 56 Issue 3
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Pages: 403-443Authors: Robert C. Allen
Published online: March 3, 2004DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2003.00257.x

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An econometric model of economic development is estimated with data from leading European countries between 1300 and 1800. The model explores the impact of population, enclosure, empire, representative government, technology, and literacy on urbanization, agricultural productivity, proto-industry, and the real wage. Simulations show that the main factors leading to economic success in north-western Europe were the growth of American and Asian commerce and, especially, the innovations underlying the export of the new draperies in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The enclosure of the open fields, representative government, and the spread of literacy did not play major roles.