The Role of Disease in Human History

Humans are an environmental niche, and organisms arise through mutation to populate it. The survival of a colonizing organism depends upon its ability to adapt to the human body, and upon the body’s ability to adapt to it…

Why Were the Americas So Underdeveloped when Europeans Reached Them?

Mesopotamia at 1500 BC looks much like Mesoamerica at 1000 AD. The Eurasians had three thousand years to build upon their Mesopotamian foundations before the coming together of the New and Old Worlds. The Americans, by contrast, had only five hundred years…

The Division of the World

W. Arthur Lewis explains how the world divided into manufacturers and primary producers…

More on the Division of the World

Long-distance trade grew rapidly during the nineteenth century. Third World countries increased their production of primary products, and decreased their production of industrial goods. The gap between the per capita incomes of the West and those of the Third World widened substantially…

Why Nations Fail: 
Extractive and Inclusive Institutions

Acemoglu and Robinson’s goal is to explain why some nations are rich and others are poor. They present a theory based on the interaction between political and economic institutions. Casual empiricism suggests that its explanatory power is quite strong…

The Chinese Economy after Mao

After the death of Mao, China introduced new economic policies that caused very rapid growth of per capita GDP…