Growth, Quality, Happiness, and the Poor
Real national income per head in Britain rose by a factor of about 16 from the 18th century to the present. Other cases, such as that of the U.S. or Korea, have been even more startling, historically speaking. Like the realization in astronomy during the 1920s that most of the “nebulae” detected by telescopes are in fact other galaxies unspeakably far from ours, the Great Fact of economic growth, discovered by historians and economists in the 1950s and elaborated since then, changes everything. And 16, if one follows William Nordhaus’ persuasive arguments about quality improvements in (say) lighting, is a very low lower bound: the true factor is roughly 100. As Maxine Berg has argued, changing quality of products was as important as changes in process. But the gain is not to be measured by pot-of-pleasure “happiness studies.” These are questionable on technical grounds, but especially on the grounds that they do not measure human fulfillment. They ignore the humanities, pretending to scientific precision. It makes more sense to stay with things we economists can actually measure, such as the rise of human scope indicated by the factor of 16 or Nordhaus’ factor of 100, or by what Sen and Nussbaum call “capabilities.” Of course, what we really care about are the scope or capabilities of the poor. These have enormously expanded under “capitalism”---though a better word is simply “innovation,” arising from bourgeois dignity and liberty. It is the Bourgeois Deal: let me alertly seek profit, and I will make you rich.”
|Date of creation:||07 Jun 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany|
Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert W. Fogel, 2008.
"Forecasting the Cost of U.S. Health Care in 2040,"
NBER Working Papers
14361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 1988.
"Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790–1846,"
The Journal of Economic History,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 813-850, December.
- Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790 - 1846," NBER Working Papers 2707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790-1846," UCLA Economics Working Papers 499, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Brent R. Moulton, 1996. "Bias in the Consumer Price Index: What Is the Evidence?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 159-177, Fall.
- repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
- Nicholas Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002.
"Precocious British industrialization: a general equilibrium perspective,"
Economic History Working Papers
22368, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
- N. F. R. Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002. "Precocious British Industrialization: A General Equilibrium Perspective," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 200213, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
- Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 1-17, March.
- Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
- Gregory Clark, 2007. "A Review of Avner Greif's Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 725-741, September.
- Buchanan, James M, 2003. "Justice among Natural Equals: Memorial Marker for John Rawls," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 114(3-4), pages iii-v, March.
- Easterlin,Richard A., 2004. "The Reluctant Economist," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521829748, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17967. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.