Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How did the poor came to be poor?

To this this question Tim Worstall gives an excellent answer:
The central economic question is not how people came to be poor, not how poverty is created, for it isn’t. It’s how wealth is created, that wondrous process which pre-1700 really didn’t happen to anybody (no, the elites, while fabulously wealthy in terms of the portion of wealth they controlled were, by our standards today, dirt poor) and now happens to any country which cares to take up the process which is the interesting and important question.
Yes there are exceptions, Zimbabwe under Mugabe being an obvious recent example, but by and large Worstall has it right.Wealth is the exception, the norm for most of human existence was poverty, so wealth needs to be explained. Economic growth is the mystery-What causes it? Why post-1700? Why did it start in the UK? How did it develop in other places?- this is why economic historians spend so much time trying to explain it, and not trying to explain poverty.

1 comment:

Mahoe said...

Gregory Clark's recent "A Farewell to Alms" is a good place to start