The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded an ERC Starting Grant of circa 1.4 million euros to Dr Bas van Leeuwen (Economic –History) for his research project ‘The Historical Dynamics of Industrialization in North-Western Europe and China, 1800-2010. The project aims to research which factors determined how and at what pace industries developed in the different European and Chinese regions. The underlying question is whether the Industrial Revolution in Northwest Europe has indeed been decisive for the way in which other regions of the world developed.
The ERC project will last 5 years and is carried out under the leadership of Van Leeuwen by a research team of two PhD candidates, a postdoc and a research assistant. The project proposal has been submitted from Utrecht University, but the research will be conducted at the International Institute of Social History (IISH-KNAW) in Amsterdam with which the Utrecht University's Department of History and Art History collaborates closely.
About the Project
Amazingly little is known about the 19th century Industrial Revolution due to a lack of systematically collected historical data and because of the fact that until now only developments on national level were studied.
This research project follows a different route –based on the use of datasets- by looking much more accurately at the developments in European and Chinese regions. The aim is to obtain an understanding of the spread and development of industries and how societies develop economically. The project does not only look at the factors that affect these developments, but also at the effects of the pace at which the industrialization process comes about.
For today's developing economies, these are practical questions they have to deal with. In addition, the research project touches upon the so-called Great Divergence debate in which the central question is how it is that prosperity in Europe from the end of the eighteenth century grew much faster than in China. Expectations are that the results of this study will also help us understand the current spectacular economic growth in China (and the stagnation in Europe) and its impact on global patterns of social inequality