The Rise and Fall of Economies: Comparative Histories of Middle East and China

Mark Elvin, Timur Kuran, R. Bin Wong

These three books are on comparative history.

The long divergence’s key argument is that by the 19th century, the Middle East had fallen way behind Western Europe economically, when once it was advanced by global standards.

Kuran suggests that Islamic law has stymied the Middle East. He posits that the Islamic law of inheritance, in which many parties related to the deceased inherit a share, causes assets like land to be fragmented and economically unviable. (p 79).

He also suggests that the waqf, which is the Islamic version of trust, resulted in the assets parked in the waqf being stagnant as they could not be used for new purposes to meet changes in society. [P 80, 114].

Elvin’s book addresses three key topics.

Why did the Chinese Empire not collapse like the Roman Empire and other empires of antiquity?

Why was China the most advanced country in the world by 1100 AD? Why did China fail to maintain its economic progress after about 1350 AD?

Wong’s book is a study of China’s economic and social history from late Imperial China to the revolution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *