World economic history in one graph

In: Uncategorized

1 Aug 2006

One of the things I intend to do in my book is to use economic history to show readers how much the world has benefited from growth. In that respect the work of Brad De Long , a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a former Treasury department official, is useful. His semi-daily journal outlines the key readings for his economic history courses. One of the most interesting is The Conquest of Nature, an introduction to world economic history by Greg Clark. The introduction has a graph showing global output per person stagnant until about 1800 and then rising sharply after that.

De Long also includes a references which reminds me how degraded the discussion of economic growth has become. It includes a 1987 article by Jared Diamond , an environmentalist and best-selling author, arguing that the agricultural revolution was a mistake. Apparently we were all better of as hunter-gatherers.