The character of growth before ‘modern economic growth’? The GDP of Holland between 1347 and 1807

Number: 
4
Author: 
van Zanden and van Leeuwen

On the basis of a newly constructed dataset of the national accounts of the province of Holland in the period between 1347 and 1800, we analyze the pattern of growth in this region, which was one of the most prosperous and dynamic parts of the pre modern European economy. We demonstrate that this economy was characterized by almost continuous but highly unstable economic growth caused mainly by exogenous shocks related to international trade and shipping, and harvest fluctuations. The causes of this growth vary over time. Yet,the start of the Golden Age was characterized by the increase of total factor productivity.TFP-growth was an important factor behind growth in the period until the 1620s, was negative during the middle decades of the 17th century, and became positive again after the

1660s. This suggests a surge of technological change during the 1540-1620 period, followed by much more incremental changes in the next two centuries