'The Great Industrial Revolution of China' - Public lecture

9 March 2018

A public lecture by Prof Yi Wen from the US Federal Reserve Bank St Louis, organised by The Chinese Economic Association (Europe/UK), the School of Social Sciences and the Confucius Institute, will take place on 16 March from 3pm at the Samuel Alexander Theatre.


The rise of China is no doubt one of the most important events in world economic history since the Industrial Revolution.

Mainstream economics, especially the institutional theory of economic development based on a dichotomy of extractive vs. inclusive political institutions, is highly inadequate in explaining China’s rise.

This article argues that only a radical reinterpretation of the history of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the West (as incorrectly portrayed by the institutional theory) can fully explain China’s growth miracle and why the determined rise of China is unstoppable despite its current “backward” financial system and political institutions.

Conversely, China’s spectacular and rapid transformation from an impoverished agrarian society to a formidable industrial superpower sheds considerable light on the fundamental shortcomings of the institutional theory as well as mainstream “blackboard” economic models, and provides more-accurate reevaluations of historical episodes such as Africa’s enduring poverty trap despite radical political and economic reforms, Latin America’s lost decades and frequent debt crises, 19th century Europe’s great escape from the Malthusian trap, and the Industrial Revolution itself.


Professor Yi Wen is a Senior Economist and Assistant Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

He obtained his Ph.D., Economics from the University of Iowa, (1996) M.A., Philosophy of Science from University of Notre Dame (1991), and B.S., Medical Sciences from West China University of Medical Sciences (1987).

His research is in the area of Macroeconomics in general and Business Cycles, Monetary Policy, International Finance, Development and the Chinese Economy specifically.

He is currently the Associate Editor of Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control and China Economic Review.

He has published widely in top economics journals such as Econometrica, Review of Economic Studies, American Economic Journal, Economic Journal, Journal of Monetary Economics, and Journal of Economic Theory.


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