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Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century
By J. Bradford DeLong
Basic Books, 2022, 546 pp.
Brad DeLong’s highly anticipated economic history of the twentieth century, Slouching Towards Utopia, begins with the reminder that economic growth is overwhelmingly a twentieth-century phenomenon. According to the best estimate, between the birth of Jesus and the beginning of the eighteenth century, the living standard of an average person rose by barely one third—1.5 percent every 100 years. Even after 1750, when the economy began appreciably expanding thanks to the steam engine, improvements in the welfare of a typical person remained paltry, scarcely doubling over 120 years in the global North as the benefits of economic expansion were matched by population growth.
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