June 12, 2016


It's the Ideas, Stupid : Review: Deirdre McCloskey, 'Bourgeois Equality' (Ian Lindquist, June 12, 2016, Free Beacon)

Some astonishing facts: the average human living before 1800 "could expect to make, earn, and consume" about $3 per day. Today, the average Afghan and the average Liberian--residents of two of the poorest countries in the world--spend $33 per day, adjusted for exchange rates and inflation. In the emerging economy of Brazil, real per-person income is "about the same as it was in the world-beating United States in 1941, or in the still-recovering postwar Britain in 1959." And the average per-person daily income in "well-off free-trade democracies," which are home to one-sixth of the world's population, is about $100. In fact, worldwide, "[i]ncome now is thirty to one hundred times more than our ancestors could manage...."

Since 1800, the world has witnessed unprecedented economic growth. In her new book Bourgeois Equality, economic historian Deirdre McCloskey explains that while many have sought to explain this growth as a function of the accumulation of capital, it is much better understood as a function of the "expanding ideology of liberty and dignity that inspired the proliferating schemes of betterment by and for the common people." This liberty and dignity led to what McCloskey calls the Bourgeois Deal, which led in turn to this Great Enrichment.

Posted by at June 12, 2016 5:09 PM