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Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Jan 29

Weekly Memo Question: Jan 29: The January 22 class painted a picture of an economic world in which (a) total factor productivity growth was very slow, and (b) as a result the overwhelming effect of technological progress was to increase human numbers rather than raise standards of living above bare subsistence. This week we read three pieces--Marx, Acemoglu et al., and Allen--all arguing that very important things were happening in northwestern Europe in 1500-1800 to raise the rate of total factor productivity growth. Pick one paper. Do you think it makes a convincing case? Taking as background January 22's class, how much of a difference in the global economic trend do you think that paper's factors by themselves could have made?