Economic History

A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World by Gregory Clark

By Gregory Clark

Why are a few elements of the realm so wealthy and others so negative? Why did the economic Revolution--and the extraordinary financial progress that got here with it--occur in eighteenth-century England, and never at another time, or in someplace else? Why did not industrialization make the entire international rich--and why did it make huge elements of the area even poorer? In A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark tackles those profound questions and indicates a brand new and provocative means during which culture--not exploitation, geography, or resources--explains the wealth, and the poverty, of countries. Countering the existing conception that the economic Revolution used to be sparked by way of the unexpected improvement of solid political, criminal, and financial associations in seventeenth-century Europe, Clark indicates that such associations existed lengthy earlier than industrialization. He argues as an alternative that those associations steadily resulted in deep cultural adjustments via encouraging humans to desert hunter-gatherer instincts-violence, impatience, and financial system of effort-and undertake financial habits-hard paintings, rationality, and schooling. the matter, Clark says, is that in basic terms societies that experience lengthy histories of payment and protection appear to enhance the cultural features and powerful workforces that allow monetary progress. For the numerous societies that experience no longer loved lengthy classes of balance, industrialization has no longer been a blessing. Clark additionally dissects the suggestion, championed by way of Jared Diamond in weapons, Germs, and metal, that ordinary endowments resembling geography account for variations within the wealth of countries. a super and sobering problem to the concept that terrible societies might be economically constructed via outdoors intervention, A Farewell to Alms may well switch the best way international financial background is known.

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Additional info for A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton Economic History of the Western World)

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English population showed dramatic variation in the preindustrial period. 8. Robertson, 1955, 32, 78, 104. When Captain Cook arrived in 1769 he was shocked to find that the locals now demanded a hatchet for a pig; Banks, 1962, 252.  Revealed technological advance in England, 1200–1800. There was growth in the medieval period from 1200 to 1316; at six million, the population in 1316 was as great as in the early eighteenth century. 9 By then England had barely two million people. Population grew again from 1540 to 1640 as the plague loosened its hold.

In contrast hunter-gatherer and subsistence cultivation diets were widely varied. The diet of the Yanomamo, for example, included monkeys, wild pigs, 8. Eden, 1797. 9. , 1995, 223–24. Since the income elasticities would fall to almost zero for very high incomes, I assume the median consumer has an income of £12 per head. 10. Mokyr, 1988, 75. 11 Engel’s Law and Living Standards When the Prussian statistician Ernst Engel (1821–96)—not to be confused with his rabble-rousing contemporary Friedrich Engels (1820–95)—undertook studies of German working-class budgets, he found a simple but powerful empirical relationship, now called Engel’s Law.

Given the now lower birth rate, however, life expectancy would be somewhat higher. So improvements in sanitation, or declines in violence and disorder, which reduce the death rate schedule in preindustrial societies, can raise life expectancy, but only at the cost of lower material living standards. This Malthusian world thus exhibits a counterintuitive logic. Anything that raised the death rate schedule—war, disorder, disease, poor sanitary practices, or abandoning breast feeding—increased material living standards.

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