Friday, February 18, 2005


Most people have no idea how terrible life was before the industrial and green revolutions. Most people have no idea how desperately poor we were then, and how shockingly rich we are now. I strongly recommend reading U Chicago economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Fogel who has published a lot of work calculating what people had then, and what we have now. In particular, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100 : Europe, America, and the Third World (Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time) outlines the remarkable advances we have made.

This post also details how desperately poor Eastern Europe was behind the Iron Curtain. Some people think that capitalism has made these economies poorer, but the article argues that this seriously underappreciates how incredibly poor they were before.


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