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George Grantham

Departmental Working Papers from McGill University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Recent archaeological findings indicate that the Hellenistic and Roman economy was a specialized market economy that obtained levels of factor productivity that appear to be on a par with levels current on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. This raises the question when that economy began to form. The present paper shows that the most likely dating for the ‘birth of the European economy was the middle third of the first millennium BC. It attributes the knitting of trans-European connections to advances in marine technology in the Middle Bronze Age, the discovery and exploitation of the Iberian silver deposits as specie for the Middle Eastern economies, the advent of iron, and the development of the wine trade between the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. The final factor was the spread of alphabetic writing. Each of these developments has an independent history, suggesting that early European integration was in many respects the product of a random concatenation of quite distinct causes, rather than the joint outcome of a general cause like population growth or changing property rights institutions.

JEL-codes: N13 N53 N70 N73 N90 N94 O31 O33 R11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 60 pages
Date: 2006-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gth and nep-pol
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