Why Europe Was First

Economic growth and social change in Europe and East Asia, 1500-2050
London: Anthem Press, 2007.

"The forces of supply and demand may operate with textbook-like ferocity, allowing people to perfectly satisfy their preferences, but a society where this is the case may still grow more slowly than another society in which market forces are less efficient but where resources are more obviously geared towards long-term growth."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:02:42+00:00
"The forces of supply and demand may operate with textbook-like ferocity, allowing people to perfectly satisfy their preferences, but a society where this is the case may still grow more slowly than another society in which market forces are less efficient but where resources are more obviously geared towards long-term growth."

"What makes modern societies different are the institutions they contain. Institutions can do what none of us can accomplish, and transformations which individuals are powerless to bring about are easily brought about by institutional means. A modern society is a society in which change happens automatically and effortlessly because it is institutionalized."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:26:11+00:00
"What makes modern societies different are the institutions they contain. Institutions can do what none of us can accomplish, and transformations which individuals are powerless to bring about are easily brought about by institutional means. A modern society is a society in which change happens automatically and effortlessly because it is institutionalized."
"A modern society cannot easily be characterized as one thing rather than another; there is no particular something that a modern society necessarily is and something else that it definitely is not.
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T04:07:54+00:00
"A modern society cannot easily be characterized as one thing rather than another; there is no particular something that a modern society necessarily is and something else that it definitely is not.
"Poor non-European countries were advised to follow the latest European achievements but this only reinforced their status of backwardness the day when, inevitably, the latest European achievements were replaced by even later ones."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-25T04:16:46+00:00
"Poor non-European countries were advised to follow the latest European achievements but this only reinforced their status of backwardness the day when, inevitably, the latest European achievements were replaced by even later ones."

"The problem for economists is that they lack a good theory for dealing with this grab-bag of disparate and ultimately non-economic factors. To a large extent this is a consequence of the limits of all existing theories of social change."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:04:33+00:00
"The problem for economists is that they lack a good theory for dealing with this grab-bag of disparate and ultimately non-economic factors. To a large extent this is a consequence of the limits of all existing theories of social change."
  • For most of its history Europe was a thoroughly average part of the world: poor, uncouth, technologically and culturally backward. By contrast, China was always far richer, more sophisticated and advanced. Yet it was Europe that first became modern, and by the nineteenth century China was struggling to catch up. This book explains why. Why did Europe succeed and why was China left behind? The answer, as we will see, does not only solve a long-standing historical puzzle, it also provides an explanation of the contemporary success of East Asia, and it shows what is wrong with current theories of development and modernization.

    The book is published twice, under different titles. For the paperback, published by Athem Press, I came up with the idea of calling it "Why Europe Was First." The idea was that it would sound less boring and academic (to go with the man on the dragon roller-coaster). Yet it's the same book as "Mechanics of Modernity," published by Routledge. Take your pick.
  • It is brilliant: beautifully argued and written, and (mostly) correct.
    Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois, author of Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce.
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