NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500

Kevin H. O'Rourke, Jeffrey G. Williamson

NBER Working Paper No. 8955
Issued in May 2002
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ITI

A recent endogenous growth literature has focused on the transition from a Malthusian world where real wages were linked to factor endowments, to one where modern growth has broken that link. In this paper we present evidence on another, related phenomenon: the dramatic reversal in distributional trends -- from a steep secular fall to a steep secular rise in wage-land rent ratios -- which occurred some time early in the 19th century. What explains this reversal? While it may seem logical to locate the causes in the Industrial Revolutionary forces emphasized by endogenous growth theorists, we provide evidence that something else mattered just as much: the opening up of the European economy to international trade.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8955

Published:

  • O'Rourke, Kevin and Jeffrey G. Williamson “From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500." Journal of Economic Growth 10, 1 (January 2005): 5-34.
  • Brown, D. K. and R. M. Stern (eds.) THE WTO AND LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT (Elgar 2007).

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