In This Review

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
By Joel Mokyr
407 pp, Princeton University Press, 2016
Purchase

For most of human history, poverty and stagnation were the norm. In 1800, according to an estimate by the economist Deirdre McCloskey, the real income per capita of the average person on the planet was roughly equal to that of people in present-day Afghanistan. Sustained economic growth and technological dynamism, meanwhile, were quite unusual. Yet beginning with Great Britain in the late eighteenth century, parts of the world—primarily but not exclusively in the West—came to see growth as the default condition. Today the word as a whole is some ten times, and the United States some fifty times, richer than the world’s average in 1800. How such growth emerged, and why it emerged when and where it did, is one of the core questions of economic history. In his new book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, the eminent economic historian Joel Mokyr sets out

To read the full article

  • PEER VRIES is an Honorary Fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and author of State, Economy, and the Great Divergence.
  • More By Peer Vries