Econ 210a Memo Question: Pre-Industrial Economic “Revolutions”

For January 27, 2016: The January 20 class painted a picture of an economic world in which (a) total factor productivity growth was very slow, and (b) as a result the overwhelming effect of technological progress was to increase human numbers rather than raise standards of living above bare subsistence. This week we read pieces all arguing that very important things were happening in northwestern Europe in 1500–1800 to raise the rate of total factor productivity growth. Pick one paper. Do you think it makes a convincing case? Taking as background January 20’s class, how much of a difference in the global economic trend do you think that paper’s factors by themselves could have made?

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