Understanding the (under)development of Poland in the Early Modern Period
01 / 2012 - unknown
Website N.W. Posthumus Instituut
There is an ongoing discussion in the economic history literature about relations between geography, institutions and market access and their joined impact on the economic growth. Economic history has a great potential in providing the scholarly world with a case studies and social experiments, practically impossible to organise in macroeconomics. Eastern Europe in the Early Modern period, and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in particular, is a relatively understudied region with many insides to contribute to the global economic history. The research will try to understand the reasons behind the Polish (under)development and test some of the ideas in the literature empirically. The research will consist of two steps. In order to solve the puzzle what drives the economic growth, one needs to have a full picture of the economic situation of the country in the period under consideration first. For those reasons a quantitative and holistic approach towards the development is needed. In order to allow for a cross-border comparison, the initial step will consist on constructing widely recognised measurements of the development. First of them will be welfare ratio based on the study of real wages. Second will be urbanisation, commonly used as a proxy of the economic development. Finally an attempt to reconstruct polish GDP in the Early Modern period will be taken. In the second step just mentioned measurements will be used to test the ideas of the impact of the geography and institutions on the economic development from the literature empirically. In particular, market integration/access and terms of trade, together with impact of political institutions and second serfdom, will be examined in detail. Moreover a possible co-dependence between the geography and institutions, like correlation between market integration and quality of polity will be taken into consideration, in order to rule out a possibility of a spurious relation.