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Syllabus Economic History of China Russia and the West since 1500 – Non-conventional Interpretation - 54843
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Last update 18-09-2017
HU Credits: 2

Degree/Cycle: 2nd degree (Master)

Responsible Department: european studies

Semester: 1st Semester

Teaching Languages: English

Campus: Mt. ScopusMt. Scopus

Course/Module Coordinator: Prof. Vladimir Popov

Coordinator Email:

Coordinator Office Hours:

Teaching Staff:
Prof Vladimir Popov

Course/Module description:
The rise of the West is often attributed to the presence of certain features in Western countries from the 16th century that were absent in more traditional societies: the abolition of serfdom, Protestant ethics, the protection of property rights, and free universities. The problem with this reasoning is that, before the 16th century, there were many countries with social structures that possessed these same features that didn’t experience rapid productivity growth.

Course/Module aims:
A general, short and pithy statement which informs a student about the subject matter, approach, breadth, and applicability of the course. A detailed list of subjects is not required in this section (2-4 sentences).

Learning outcomes - On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
This course offers a new interpretation of the ‘Great Divergence’ and ‘Great Convergence’ stories. It explores how Western countries grew rich, and why parts of the developing world (South and East Asia and the Middle East) did not catch up with the West from 1500 to 1950 but began to narrow the gap after 1950. It also examines why others (Latin America, South Africa, and Russia) were more successful at catching up from 1500 to 1950, but then experienced a slowdown in economic growth compared to other developing countries. The existing explanations and a novel interpretation of the rise of the West and of the subsequent development of ‘the Rest’ are discussed. China and Russia, important examples of two groups of developing countries, are examined in greater detail.

Attendance requirements(%):

Teaching arrangement and method of instruction: The methods of instruction in the course and any other arrangement regarding teaching and learning activity.

Course/Module Content:
Week 1-2. Growth Theories and Growth Experience. Malthusian Growth Regime. How the West Became Rich: Stylized Facts and Literature Review

Book, Ch. 1
Popov, V. Why the West Became Rich before China and Why China Has Been Catching Up with the West since 1949: Another Explanation of the “Great Divergence” and “Great Convergence” Stories. -NES/CEFIR Working paper # 132, October 2009.

Week 3-4. How the West Got Rich and Why China Is Catching Up, but Russia Isn’t. Economic Growth in a Historical Perspective (since 1500)
Book, Ch. 2

Popov, V. Catching Up: Developing Countries in Pursuit of Growth. MPRA Paper No. 65878, August 2015.

Popov, V. Is The Chinese Variety of Capitalism Really Unique? -Transition, May 24, 2010 (Also published in Insight, June 2010; IDEAs, October 19, 2010; CEFIR and NES working paper # 156, January 2011).
o In Chinese: Bi Wensheng. Popov on China's development model. - Guo Wai Li Lun Dong Tai (Foreign Theoretical Trends), 2011, No. 1.

Week 5-6. Chinese and Russian Performance under Central Planning

Book, Ch. 3

Popov, V. Life Cycle of the Centrally Planned Economy: Why Soviet Growth Rates Peaked in the 1950s. In: Transition and Beyond. Edited by:Saul Estrin , Grzegorz W. Kolodko and Milica Uvalic. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Popov, V. China’s Rise in the Medium Term Perspective: an Interpretation of Differences in Economic Performance of China and Russia since 1949. - "História e Economia Revista Interdisciplinar", Vol. 3 - n. 1 - 2º semestre 2007 (Also published in "Transition to Market Oriented Economy". - Ed. by N.A. Khan. Icfai books, Hyderabad, 2009).

Week 7-8. Economic Performance of Transition Economies during Market Type Reforms.

Book, Ch. 4
Popov, V. Lessons from the Transition Economies. Putting the Success Stories of the Postcommunist World into a Broader Perspective. - UNU/WIDER Research Paper No. 2009/15.

Popov, V. Shock Therapy versus Gradualism Reconsidered: Lessons from Transition Economies After 15 Years of Reforms. - "Comparative Economic Studies", Vol. 49, Issue 1, March 2007, pp. 1-31.

Week 9-10. Transformational Recession. Transition Strategies (Shock Therapy versus Gradualism).

Book, Ch. 4

Popov, V. Shock Therapy versus Gradualism Reconsidered: Lessons from Transition Economies After 15 Years of Reforms. - "Comparative Economic Studies", Vol. 49, Issue 1, March 2007, pp. 1-31.

Popov, V. Shock Therapy versus Gradualism: The End of the Debate (Explaining the Magnitude of the Transformational Recession). – Comparative Economic Studies, Vol. 42, Spring, 2000, No. 1, pp. 1-57

Week 11-12. Macroeconomic Policies in Fast Growing Countries

Book, Ch. 5

Popov, V. Global Imbalances: An Unconventional View. - IDEAs, Oct. 19, 2010. Also published at "Iniciativa para la Transparencia Financiera" , lectura 57; and as a CEFIR and NES working paper # 160. May 2010.

Polterovich, V., V. Popov. Accumulation of Foreign Exchange Reserves and Long Term Economic Growth (co-authored with V. Polterovich). – In: Slavic Eurasia’s Integration into the World Economy. Ed. By S. Tabata and A. Iwashita. Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 2004. Updated version, 2006.

Week 13-14. Industrial Policies in Fast Growing Countries

Book, Ch. 5

Polterovich, V., V. Popov. Appropriate Economic Policies at Different Stages of Development. Co-authored with V. Polterovich. NES, 2004.
Polterovich, V., V. Popov. Stages of Development, Economic Policies and New World Economic Order (co-authored with V. Polterovich). Paper presented at the Seventh Annual Global Development Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. January 2006.
Rodrik, D. What’s so special about China’s exports? Harvard University, January 2006. Http://
Popov, V., A. Chowdhury. What Uzbekistan tells us about industrial policy that we did not know? - DESA working paper No. 147. February 2016.

Required Reading:
Mixed Fortunes: An Economic History of China, Russia and the West. Oxford University Press, April 2014.
Reading material as in module content above

Additional Reading Material:

Course/Module evaluation:
End of year written/oral examination 0 %
Presentation 0 %
Participation in Tutorials 0 %
Project work 0 %
Assignments 0 %
Reports 0 %
Research project 0 %
Quizzes 0 %
Other 100 %
final paper 100%

Additional information:
Students needing academic accommodations based on a disability should contact the Center for Diagnosis and Support of Students with Learning Disabilities, or the Office for Students with Disabilities, as early as possible, to discuss and coordinate accommodations, based on relevant documentation.
For further information, please visit the site of the Dean of Students Office.