A reassessment of the Great Divergence debate

In this article, I first look at the most recent data to define when the Little and Great Divergence occurred. Next, I sort the deep determinants governing economic development into three categories (biogeography, culture-institutions, and contingency-conjuncture), and I provide a comprehensive review of these determinants in the context of the Great Divergence. The article then discusses the concepts of persistence and reversal of fortune, and finally claims that there is a clear pattern of change over time of the relative importance of the three categories of determinants. Hence, I conclude that in addition to studies examining the long-lasting effect of deep determinants of economic development in the context of a historical event, research should focus on elaborating a unified framework that can account for the relationships between determinants. I further argue that this synthetic explanation of the Great Divergence should focus on family and energy systems as ultimate determinants.