In the Middle Ages, much of Europe was sparsely populated. People lived in small settlements separated by lawless wilderness, so they had to be self-reliant.
The first states showed signs of constitutional government, but the fifteenth-century military revolution caused some states to veer towards authoritarianism.
The rapid progress of European science was not inevitable. It was facilitated by Europe’s legal institutions, in particular, by the concept of jurisdiction.
Chinese scientists could not free themselves from the demands of the emperor, and Islamic scientists could not free themselves from the demands of Islam.
At the time of the Glorious Revolution, an ideology that emphasized the value of labour pushed aside an ideology that justified the power of the landowners.
The struggle for religious toleration began in the sixteenth century. Its advocates risked their livelihoods, their freedom, and even their lives.
The Industrial Revolution was one aspect of a dramatic change in the way that people thought of themselves and the world in which they lived.
Over the course of the Industrial Revolution, Britain became an industrial superpower. Other countries had to find policies that would allow them to develop their industry despite Britain’s enormous first-mover advantage. These policies necessarily involved protectionist trade policies and government intervention…
Acemoglu and Robinson argue that a country’s prosperity is determined by its political and economic institutions. Casual empiricism supports their argument.
Evidence from the Industrial Revolution does not support Acemoglu and Robinson’s claim that the transition to sustained growth always follows the same pattern.