A Caltech Library Service

The politics and economics of Europe’s comparative advantage in violence

Hoffman, Philip T. (2008) The politics and economics of Europe’s comparative advantage in violence. GPIH Working Paper, 13. Institute of Governmental Affairs, UC Davis , Davis, CA.

[img] PDF (December 2008) - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


By the eighteenth century, Europeans dominated the military technology of gunpowder weapons. Their dominance was surprising, because the technology had originated in China and had been used with expertise in East and South Asia and the Ottoman Empire. Historians have often invoked competition to account for the Europeans’ military prowess, but competition cannot explain why they forged ahead in developing this technology. The answer lies in the peculiar form that military competition took in western Europe: it was a tournament that induced European rulers to invest heavily in improving the technology of gunpowder weapons. Political incentives and military conditions kept such a tournament from developing in China, Japan, India, and the Ottoman Empire, and as a result rulers had much less reason to push the gunpowder technology.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription paper on Global Prices and Income History Group's site
Additional Information:GPIH Working Paper No. 13, Version: December 2008. Research for this paper was supported by NSF Grant 0433358 as part of the Global Prices and Incomes Project.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Series Name:GPIH Working Paper
Issue or Number:13
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160321-120136465
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65537
Deposited By: Susan Vite
Deposited On:30 Mar 2016 23:37
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:48

Repository Staff Only: item control page