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A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World

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  • Robert C. Allen

Abstract

A Farewell to Alms advances striking claims about the economic history of the world. These include (1) the preindustrial world was in a Malthusian preventive check equilibrium, (2) living standards were unchanging and above subsistence for the last 100,000 years, (3) bad institutions were not the cause of economic backwardness, (4) successful economic growth was due to the spread of "middle class" values from the elite to the rest of society for "biological" reasons, (5) workers were the big gainers in the British Industrial Revolution, and (6) the absence of middle class values, for biological reasons, explains why most of the world is poor. The empirical support for these claims is examined, and all are questionable.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jel.46.4.946
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 46 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 946-73

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:46:y:2008:i:4:p:946-73

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.46.4.946
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References

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  1. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
  2. Clark, Gregory, 1987. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 141-173, March.
  3. Esteban A. Nicolini, 2006. "Was Malthus Right? A Var Analysis Of Economic And Demographic Interactions In Pre-Industrial England," Working Papers in Economic History wh060601, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
  4. Peter M. Solar, 1995. "Poor relief and English economic development before the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-22, 02.
  5. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Wages, Prices, and Living Standards in China, Japan, and Europe, 1738-1925," Economics Series Working Papers 316, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Quinn, Stephen, 2001. "The Glorious Revolution'S Effect On English Private Finance: A Microhistory, 1680 1705," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 593-615, September.
  7. Wolcott, Susan & Clark, Gregory, 1999. "Why Nations Fail: Managerial Decisions and Performance in Indian Cotton Textiles, 1890–1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(02), pages 397-423, June.
  8. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Pessimism Preserved: Real Wages in the British Industrial Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 314, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
  10. Weir, David R., 1984. "Life Under Pressure: France and England, 1670–1870," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(01), pages 27-47, March.
  11. de Vries, Jan, 1994. "The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 249-270, June.
  12. Mitra, Arup, 1999. "Agglomeration Economies as Manifested in Technical Efficiency at the Firm Level," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 490-500, May.
  13. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  14. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Engel`s Pause: A Pessimist`s Guide to the British Industrial Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 315, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  15. Hanson, John R., 1988. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? A Traditional View," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 668-672, September.
  16. Wilkins, Mira, 1987. "Efficiency and Management: A Comment on Gregory Clark's “Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 981-983, December.
  17. Hatcher, John & Bailey, Mark, 2001. "Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England's Economic Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244126.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. links for 2010-02-21
    by Jim in Our Word is Our Weapon on 2010-02-22 03:01:00
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Cited by:
  1. Clark, Gregory, 2010. "The Consumer Revolution: Turning Point in Human History, or Statistical Artifact?," MPRA Paper 25467, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Gregory Clark & Joe Cummins & Brock Smith, 2010. "The Surprising Wealth of Pre-industrial England," Working Papers 1014, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. Seven Agir, 2011. "The Evolution of Grain Policy Beyond Europe: Ottoman Grain Administration in the Late Eighteenth Century," Working Papers 999, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  4. Clark, Gregory, 2013. "1381 and the Malthus delusion," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 4-15.
  5. Chiarini, Bruno, 2010. "Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 460-475, October.
  6. Nicholas Crafts, 2010. "Cliometrics and technological change: a survey," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1127-1147.
  7. Charles J. Cook, . "The Role of Lactose Tolerance in Pre-Colonial Development," Departmental Working Papers 2011-12, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  8. Ken Tabata, 2013. "The Expansion of the Commercial Sector and the Child Quantity-Quality Transition in a Malthusian World," Discussion Paper Series 105, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised May 2013.

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