How Did the West Get Rich?Posted: May 23, 2016
James Pethokoukis writes: To back two centuries and the average world income per human was about $3 a day, notes economist Deirdre McCloskey in the Wall Street Journal. Now it’s $33 a day, and four times higher than that in advanced economies like the United States, Germany, and Japan. And those numbers — even with the usual inflation adjustment — may well understate things.
So why are we so much, much richer today? After dismissing some alternative explanations, McCloskey arrives at this one:
The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans were liberated.
From Luther’s reformation through the Dutch revolt against Spain after 1568 and England’s turmoil in the Civil War of the 1640s, down to the American and French revolutions, Europeans came to believe that common people should be liberated to have a go…(read more)
For more, check out McCloskey’s recent talk at AEI.
For a lot more, check out her new book “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World“
Source: Pethokoukis Blog » AEIdeas