This is an odd mistake for an economist to make. Because this is a point that has been examined rather a lot over the centuries. It’s at the heart of the difference between a Malthusian economy and a Smithian one and also a Solow one. It’s entirely true that one – but only one – determinant of the living standards of the population is how much capital there is to add to the labour of said population.…See More
The Reverend Malthus was in fact right in his insistence that technological advance didn’t enrich humans. Because that greater wealth just led to more children surviving, meaning the next generation of three was larger but back to living at subsistence. He was right up to the moment that he sat down to write in fact. Which is when technological advance took off and overwhelmed, in its speed, that return to subsistence. Further proof of how bad it was is here:
Taking Malthus seriously
Jakob Brøchner Madsen, Peter Robertson, Longfeng Ye 14 July 2019
The econometric evidence for the Malthusian trap in pre-industrial Europe has been weak.…See More
There is a school of thought – perhaps just a strain of it rather than an entire institution – which tells us that the Black Death was an important causative factor in the development of the money economy, capitalism and economic growth. Only that disruption of the feudal economy allowed the new arrangements to come to fruition. Killing one third of the population allowing that Brave New World.
Well, maybe, obviously enough. Other people have tried killing one third of the population – Pol Pot, Stalin perhaps – and they’ve not gained that economic lift off.…See More