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From Growth Spurts to Sustained Growth

  • Gonçola Monteiro
  • Alvaro Pereira

This paper presents new evidence on the existence of pre-industrial growth spurts and the nature of economic growth during the transition from Malthus to Solow. In this research, growth spurts are an intrinsic feature of the economy, but throughout history their effect on standards of living is mostly temporary. Sustained rises in living standards only become sustained when there are complementarities between the triple engines of growth of technological development, human capital and the organization of the workplace. In Malthusian economies, most technologies were basic and only required straightforward knowledge or human capital, and thus the skill-technology complementarity did not play a role in their development. As a consequence, most technological developments in Malthusian economies generated growth spurts that did not become sustained, although there was a temporary increase in standards of living. However, the increasing complexity of the epistemic knowledge base reported by the historical literature meant that investments in applied technology were progressively more significant, enhancing the role of human capital. After a certain threshold of the knowledge base was surpassed, more and more complex applied technologies were developed, and growth spurts became permanent features of the economy.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 06/24.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:06/24
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  1. Goodfriend, Marvin & McDermott, John, 1995. "Early Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 116-33, March.
  2. Oded_Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth:Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers 2004-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1998. "Malthus to Solow," NBER Working Papers 6858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2005. "Why England? Demand, Growth and Inequality During the Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 208, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2006. "The Galor-Weil Model Revisited: A Quantitative Exercise," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(1), pages 116-142, January.
  6. Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run," NBER Working Papers 7375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  9. Grantham, George, 1999. "Contra Ricardo: On the macroeconomics of pre-industrial economies," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 199-232, August.
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