DP8007 | Indian GDP Before 1870: Some Preliminary Estimates and a Comparison with Britain

Publication Date

23/09/2010

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Abstract

This paper provides estimates of Indian GDP constructed from the output side for the pre-1871 period, and combines them with population estimates to track changes in living standards. Indian per capita GDP declined steadily between 1600 and 1871. As British living standards increased from the mid-seventeenth century, India fell increasingly behind. Whereas in 1650, Indian per capita GDP was more than 80 per cent of the British level, by 1871 it had fallen to less than 15 per cent. As well as placing the origins of the Great Divergence firmly in the early modern period, the estimates suggest a relatively prosperous India at the height of the Mughal Empire, with living standards well above bare bones subsistence.