Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 June 2021
This book seeks to provide an overview of the modern world economy since 1870, dealing with the material in such a way as to give due weight to chronology, regional balance, and coverage of the main topics. It forms part of a two-volume publication, with the first volume taking the story from 1700 to 1870. Volume II begins in 1870 because by then modern economic growth had emerged in Britain and already spread to much of the rest of western Europe and the British offshoots in the New World (the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and was poised to begin in Asia, following the institutional reforms in Japan associated with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. There was thus a great potential during the period after 1870 for closing the gap in living standards that had opened up between the West and the rest of the world. Although many more countries embarked on the process of sustained modern economic growth between 1870 and 2001, the gap nevertheless continued to grow during the long twentieth century, as catching up proved elusive (Maddison 2005: 11). By 2001, the world was nearly seven times richer than it had been in 1870, but the gains were unevenly distributed, with the West growing by a factor of nearly 12, while the rest of the world grew by a factor of less than 6.