Escaping Malthus: A comparative look at Japan and the Great Divergence

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The causes and consequences of the industrial revolution have led to a great deal of scholarship and debate within the field of economic history, from efforts to understand the internal dynamics of England and Europe to more recent revisionist literature that has sought to expand the debate by looking to Asia. This has enlivened and broadened the Great Divergence debate through examining, by way of ecological factors, not only why China did not industrialize but also why England took a different path from that of China. This article expands the argument by looking at Japan, with a focus on coal-mining as a foundation for escaping Malthusian constraints. As such, it will assess the extent of Malthusian pressure in pre-modern Japan and the importance of coal-mining in alleviating these pressures relative to conditions in England and China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403 - 424
JournalJournal of Global History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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