Growth that Makes Us Richer and Growth that Doesn’t

Economists distinguish between two kinds of growth, extensive and intensive. Extensive growth raises a nation’s total output, but doesn’t make the populace better off and can easily make it worse off. Intensive growth, on the other hand, raises the average person’s standard of living…

Property Rights and Growth

North and Thomas argue that the establishment and enforcement of property rights has been a major cause of economic growth. A person who has property rights over a particular resource has the right to control it and use it as he pleases. Property rights are determined in part by law and in part by social conventions…

The Intellectual History of Property Rights

The classical economists strongly supported the idea of private property. The idea was less well received in the nineteenth century: John Stuart Mill and Alfred Marshall were skeptical of it, and Karl Marx rejected it entirely. The twentieth century saw another reversal of opinion…

Feudalism

Feudalism was the economic and political system of Europe during the Middle Ages. One might be tempted to dismiss it as a primitive system, discarded when something better came along, but to do so would be to misunderstand human institutions…

The Decline of Feudalism

Custom played such a large role in governing feudal institutions that they were resistant to change. Feudalism could only be shaken by substantial changes to the external environment, and those changes finally came…

The Institutionalization of Science in Europe

In the time between the Scientific Revolution and World War II, almost every major advance in modern science was made by scientists who were culturally European…

Reining In the Kings

The security of person and property is an essential aspect of property rights. That security was endangered during Europe’s Middle Ages by, among other things, the predatory behaviour of kings…