Economic Change and Social Dynamics: Converging and Diverging Trends Across Different Economies

  • Bernadette Andreosso-O’CallaghanEmail author


The economic history literature on income convergence between and across countries (particularly in those of the west) acknowledges the existence of two distinct chronological periods after the Second World War (WWII): 1950–1973 is seen as being the “golden age” in which both income convergence and distributional convergence took place. By contrast, the “post-golden age” period is characterized by distributional divergence and polarization, with, on average, the rich countries getting richer, and with far less mobility across income groups within the different countries, than in the previous period. When appraising convergence at the intracountry level, the “post-golden age” period also corresponds to a period during which social movements have flourished, particularly in the case of Europe. This chapter builds on previous analyses by studying convergence (or divergence) in the long term and in the case of a number of selected Asian countries compared with the case of the European Union. In doing so, it goes beyond the traditional concept of economic convergence by including sociological indicators such as life expectancy. Consequently, this chapter analyzes socioeconomic convergence during a period which starts with decolonization and which spans beyond the Asian crisis (1997–1998), the latter being considered as a structural break in terms of Asian growth. New trends delineated in the background of the current crisis will also be analyzed.


European Union Gross Domestic Product Social Cohesion Gini Coefficient Composite Indicator 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Kemmy Business SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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