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Globalization - When did Globalization Begin?

Updated on August 6, 2010
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus

Globalization - When did Globalization Begin?

There are as many beginning points of globalization as there are definitions of it, in part due to the fact that different definitions have different starting points. Nayan Chanda from the Yale Center of the Study of Globalization estimates globalization began 8000 years ago, because at that time all the forces that would push globalization forward was already in place. Chanda wrote the following in his 2007 book Bound Together: "Essentially, the basic motivations that propelled humans to connect with others - the urge to profit by trading, the drive to spread religious belief, the desire to exploit new lands, and the ambition to dominate other by armed might - all had been assembled by 6000 BCE to start the process we now call globalization".

Other possible starting dates are when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1942, the first time someone circumnavigated the world in 1522, the Industrial Revolution which began in the late 18th century, and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

The World Bank states that there have been three 'waves' of globalization. The first began in 1870 and ended at the beginning of World War I in 1914. It was characterized by a reduction in trade barriers and and improvement in transportation technologies, which resulted in major migration of about 10% of the world's population. The next wave occurred from 1950 to 1980 during which multiple trade agreements occurred between developed nations which left out the developing world. The final(and current) wave of globalization(beginning 1980) in contrast has been characterized by the willingness of developed nations to remove trade barriers in order to attract foreign capital.

In a 2002 article in European Review of Economic History , Kevin H. O'Rourke and Jeffrey G. Williamson calculated a starting date for globalization by analyzing four centuries of data. Their theory was that globalization would be characterized by the fact that the prices of goods and services are determined by global supply and demand. Therefor price levels in different countries should be similar as globalization progressed. O'Rourke and Williamson used data from 1565 to 1936, and found that price convergence started around 1820.

The starting point of 1820 is as acceptable as any. It also fits the current consensus that globalization, defined as world economic integration, began somewhere between 1820-1870.

To sum up - The beginning of globalization depends on the definition of the term, but general academic consensus is that it began between 1820 and 1870.

Fall of the Berlin Wall
Fall of the Berlin Wall

Source: The Bedside Baccalaureate 

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    • profile image

      Me 2 years ago

      You have an error in grammar in the Christopher Columbus. It says "and and". Get it fixed

    • profile image

      Edevard 4 years ago

      lucky that Columbus discovered America just before WW1, so that they could help out

    • profile image

      Gu 4 years ago

      Where was globalisation found

    • profile image

      Betty 5 years ago

      I sure hope that some one can correct the typo in the date that Columbus discovered the new world!! If students quote this they will certainly fail!! It was 1492 NOT 1942!!

      Quote above : Other possible starting dates are when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1942, the first time someone circumnavigated the world in 1522,

    • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

      Dubuquedogtrainer 5 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

      Interesting. Could globalization have started even earlier with the construction of the Tower of Babel?

    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 6 years ago from England

      i would argue that globalisation began thousands of years ago. as soon as people, never mind nations, begin to trade goods from different geographical locations you have globalisation.

      none the less, excelently informed hub. well written aswell.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice research,well written and articulated piece of information that really came with lots of expositions.thanks for this work.

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      Jeff 7 years ago

      Never knew Columbus discovered the new world in 1942 ;)