Phases of global demographic transition correlate with phases of the Great Divergence and Great Convergence
The Great Divergence and, to a lesser extent, the Great Convergence phenomena have attracted considerable scholarly attention. However, the existing attempts at explaining these phenomena and their background share two significant drawbacks: first, no model (to the best of our knowledge) has managed to account for both the Great Divergence and the Great Convergence so as to explain the timing of the trend change (around 1970s). Second, most existing models concentrate heavily on the economic forces, frequently neglecting the demographic factor. We offer an approach to overcome these drawbacks, revealing a close coupling between phases of global demographic transition and phases of the Great Divergence and Great Convergence. As we account for the crucial role of the demographic component in these processes, we show that the timing of the trend change was not coincidental. Our findings suggest that the dynamics of global population growth and the Great Divergence and Great Convergence therefore may be considered so closely coupled as to be two sides of the same coin. On the other hand, they also suggest that the Great Divergence and Great Convergence should be treated as a single process, as two phases of the global modernization. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.