From Unsettling Economics blog:
David Landes recently published an article explaining why the West prospered more than China. You can read the whole thing and scroll down. Landes finds the usual ” that China lacked the proper market arrangements that makes capitalism work. But then he goes further, suggesting that the monasteries (hardly what one might think of as a free market) were a major factor in European success.
Landes, David S. 2006. “Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20: 2 (Spring): pp. 3-22. [Full Text]