Joseph Needham's Economic Changes In Science And Civilization In Europe

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According to Joseph Needham’s work in Science and Civilization in China, the Chinese innovations of gunpowder, magnetic compass and printing prove that China was at least more technologically advanced than Europe by 1400. However, the Europe economy was clearly more prosperous than China 400 years later where Europeans enjoyed significant improvements in living standards. The differences in incomes and technology between China and Europe was called the “Great Divergence”. Thomas Malthus believes that the massive rising population was the main cause for China’s lagging economy. Since Europe which also had increasing population had escaped from the Malthusian Trap, other factors such as law and institutions, the role of trade and incentives must…show more content…
Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio” (Malthus
1798, Pg 4). The population in China was 70 million in 1400, which then dramatically rose to approximately 400 million in 1850. Therefore a fall in the living standards of the Chinese was expected using Malthusian Trap Model, since the in the production function model, an increase in population will lead to a fall in output growth when diminishing returns take place in a extensive growth economy (Malthus 1798, Pg 100). The New Revisionists
Broadberry and Gupta measure both silver wages and grain wages for China and Europe. The
Chinese silver wages fell from 39% of the Britain’s silver wage in 16th century to only 15% by
1849. The Engel’s law states that as consumers’ incomes rise, the proportion of the income spent on food decreases. The relatively stable grain wages in Chins indicates the divergence of the standard of living between China and Europe happened as early as in the 16th century in terms of manufactured goods and services. The Chinese living standards was approaching back to the subsistence level due to the massive population according Malthus’ theory.
Malthus believes that “ early marriages very generally prevail through all the rank of

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