Rick Steckel (2008), "Biological Measures of the Standard of Living", Journal of Economic Perspectives 22:1 (Winter), pp. 129-52 http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.22.1.129
Thomas Malthus (1798), An Essay on the Principle of Population, Chapters 1-2, pp.1-11, Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, 1998. http://www.esp.org/books/malthus/population/malthus.pdf
Gregory Clark (2007), A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Chapter 2, “The Logic of the Malthusian Economy,” pp. 19-39 and Chapter 3, “Living Standards,” pp. 40-70. Princeton: Princeton University Press. On reserve at Graduate Services. An earlier draft (not preferred) is available at http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112e (chapter 2) and http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112j (chapter 3)
In the Shadow of Malthus
Required Readings: Rick Steckel, Thomas Malthus, Gregory Clark
- Richard H. Steckel (2008), "Biological Measures of the Standard of Living”
- "Essay examines the unique and valuable contributions of four biological measures -- life expectancy, morbidity, stature, and certain features of skeletal remains -- to understand levels and changes in human well-being..."
The Coming of Agriculture
- Agricultural Plantation Slavery
- Health and Wealth
- Demography Before Modern Economic Growth
- What Does It Mean for a Human Population to Grow at Only 1%/Generation?
- A hunter-gatherer population?
- An agricultural population?
- An industrial/post-industrial population?
Nasty, Brutish, and Short
- The phrase is Thomas Hobbes’s
- Modern standard of living is worth 10 cm.
- Practically every non-aristo skeleton from our agrarian past is really short
- Exceptions: fish eaters
- Exceptions: Souix
- Exceptions: Hunter-gatherers
- What does being 10 cm. shorter do to brain development?
Demography Before and During Modern Economic Growth
- Thomas Malthus (1798), An Essay on the Principle of Population: “Let us imagine for a moment Mr. Godwin's beautiful system of equality realized in its utmost purity…”
- William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice
- Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind
- Demography pins the standard of living to “subsistence” as long as technological progress is “slow”
- G.W.F. Hegel: “die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug”--“The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk”
Gregory Clark: “The Logic of the Malthusian Economy” and “Living Standards”
- “From 1340 to 1680 the population of the major European countries actually fell slightly… the average number of surviving children per woman… ranged from 1.90 in the Netherlands to 1.99 in France…”
- Live births per adult woman…
- Direct Estimates of Long-Run Real Wage Trends
- We know what monks paid their construction workers.
- We know what bread and other staples cost.
- Questions about whether these workers are in any sense representative
A Malthusian Economy? When and Why?
- We are not terribly unhappy with our population estimates.
- We are unhappy with our estimates of modern economic growth
- But the thing itself exists
- And before MEG there must have been living standard stagnation
- Those together imply the picture that we have.
Malthus’s Policy Recommendations
- All of the action is in Csub, therefore...
- Delaying the start of sexual activity humanity’s only chance:
- A pretty good theory as of 1800...
- Not at all a good theory as of 1850...
- An absolutely lousy theory as of today...
- Or is it?