Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy. By Kevin H. O'Rourke and Jeffery G. Williamson (Cambridge, Mass., The MIT Press, 1999) 343 pp. $45.00
In this detailed and systematic study of patterns of change in North Atlantic economies during the nineteenth century, and beyond, O'Rourke and Williamson deal with several major themes relevant to the economic growth of the nineteenth century. Both of these economists have published extensively on these and related topics in recent years. The references list nearly sixty books and articles, written either separately or jointly by these scholars, many of which have been influential in shaping views of the past and the present.
The basic questions include two themes of interest not only for economic historians but also for policymakers today, convergence and globalization. Convergence refers to the comparative growth rates of the richer versus the less rich nations, and to the process of the diffusion of growth from richer to poorer nations. It deals with the problems of economic leadership and whether continuity of leadership is to be expected, a problem of some interest to those concerned with the position of the American economy in recent decades.
The second issue--the emergence of globalization and its consequences--has a more current political interest. The authors study movements in labor (immigration and emigration), capital …