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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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Edward Hugh

Oh, I'm really pleased you've picked up on Greg Clark, I think he's excellent. Especially his work on demographic changes in the UK in the seventeenth century: basically the marriage age cam down and fertility went up. Then the UK discovered it was built on a mountain of coal and started using the extra people to dig it out of the ground, selling the produce abroad and buying grain to feed the higher population with the proceeds. Free trade triumphs over Malthus, a win-win technical change/population growth dynamic takes root and industrial revolution here we come. Fascinating stuff.

This Chapter:

http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/GlobalHistory/Global%20History-10.pdf

Which is based on this earlier paper:

http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/secret2001.pdf

gets to the heart of the thing.

"Part of the reason for the traditional overestimation of the efficiency gains of the Industrial Revolution was that much of the simultaneous growth of population and living standards in the years 1770-1860, the breaking of the old Malthusian constraints, was created by events outside England. Most of the ability of the economy to sustain both income gains and population growth after 1800 was created by events outside England: specifically lower population growth in England’s trading partners, declining transport costs, the addition to the world economy of the new land of the Americas, and the growing efficiency of the American economy."

Read and enjoy everyone.

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