Economist: What was the Great Divergence?
"A FEW centuries ago it would have been difficult to tell Europe apart from the rest of the world—in economic terms, at least. Indeed, half a millenium ago Europe might justly have been considered a laggard. The three inventions which, in the words of Karl Marx, “ushered in bourgeois society” were not invented in Europe. Gunpowder, the compass and the printing press were probably all invented in China.
But by the 19th century, things were rather different. Western Europe and parts of North America had become fabulously wealthy. Almost everywhere else was horribly poor. Economic historians refer to this as the “Great Divergence”. ..."
I'll add that failure to seriously wrestle with what is going on here and incorporating that into theological implications for work, addressing poverty, and general ethics, is one of the biggest reasons the church finds itself unable to address current issues in constructive ways. Ideologies of Western supremacy or Western exploitation as the driving features are insufficient.