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…

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 Industrial Revolution

Britain experienced a period of rapid technological innovation during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The way in which work was done changed radically, and British goods rose to dominance in markets around the world…

Steam: From Torricelli to Choo-Choo

The steam engine is generally considered to be the most revolutionary invention of the Industrial Revolution. It would power a new generation of industrial machinery; and it would give rise to two transportation technologies, railways and steamships, that would stitch the world together…

Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen in Britain in the Eighteenth Century?

The central feature of the Industrial Revolution was technological innovation on an unprecedented scale, so explaining the time and place of the innovation is tantamount to explaining the time and place of the Industrial Revolution. Why did this wave of innovation occur in Britain in the eighteenth century?

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…