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Christopher Isett: New evidence of the great divergence

     Historian Christopher Isett aims to answer a big question about world development: “Why, given all of its advances, did China not arrive at the industrial revolution or modern economy and capitalism? Why did those originate in Europe?” In order to answer this question, Dr. Isett used the height records of wrongful death victims to estimate the average height of the people around 1680 to 1780 in China. The average changes of height of a population are an important index of nutrition levels and the stability of the society. Dr. Isett found that in 18th century, the average height of Chinese people stagnated, which reflects the stagnation of average household income. Next, the team will extend their research into the 19th century to understand the process of “The Great Divergence.” The results of this work could challenge the arguments of well-known historian Kenneth Pomaranze. Dr. Isett is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota.
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