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Integration of grain markets: effects on globalisation and great divergence in Europe, Asia and America, 1700 / 1914

11th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Economic history

Senior Researcher : Alfredo García Hiernaux

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Complutense de Madrid


This project aims to contribute to two of the most notable current lines of research in Economic History and International Economics: globalisation and sharp divergence. The confluence of the two should provide answers to these questions: What is globalisation and when did it arise? Is it a phenomenon that arose the 18th century, or later, in the central decades of the 19th century? Does it include Asia and America from the start, or was it initially circumscribed to the Atlantic economy? When and why did the East and the West diverge? Is that sharp divergence contemporary (19th century) or modern (17th-18th centuries)? Did globalisation precede the sharp divergence or vice versa, or were they simultaneous?

The study of the prices of grain in Europe and America between the start of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th century shows market integration on both sides of the Atlantic. Given the economic characteristics of grain, the study of the international integration of its markets is equivalent to O'Rourke and Williamson's study of globalisation (1999, 2002 and 2004). Thanks to an innovative econometric methodology, the inclusion of the 18th century into the period studied, a wealth of quantitative data and abundant historical evidence, Dobado, García-Hiernaux and Guerrero (2012) present an alternative vision of globalisation to the canonical one. The study of the intra- and intercontinental integration of grain markets (incorporating the prices of maize and rice into the database of nominal prices for wheat) will expand its geographic scope to Asia and its time-frame to include the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century.

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