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Why Malthus Is Still Wrong - Scientific American
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.
malthus  population  world  health  culture  sociaty  politics  austerity 
9 weeks ago by sjmarshy
On the constancy of the rate of GDP growth | Nintil
> This was the Malthusian regime: GDP did increase, but as soon as it did, population increased to match it, keeping wealth per capita constant. Here we can also do a simple modeling exercise: GDP per capita will be that amount of wealth that allows a generation to, at least, reproduce itself. With a biologically-nudged setpoint for desired number of offspring above 2, we get population growth, and a constant quantity, GDP per capita. GDP is thus purely driven by population growth in this model, and our hyper-parameter, so to speak, is the desired number of offspring. (One can complicate this model to make it more realistic)

We can then ask: When did sustained growth began? That constant growth is the subject of this post. One usual answer is: During the Industrial Revolution. It may have been earlier, during the Scientific Revolution, but the fact remains that it happened then, and not during Roman times or during the Middle Ages. It is not the subject of this post to explain why, but insofar as the why forms part of the explanation of the constancy of growth, we can’t help say something about it. Different authors put the why in different places: In an increase in status of the burgeois virtues (McCloskey), in the spread of an ideology of improvement (Howes), the rise of scientific thinking (Mokyr), or -breaking with the character of these explanations – a high ratio between wages and the cost of capital (Allen).
economics  history  science  malthus  population_growth 
november 2018 by porejide
Rosalind Mitchison reviews ‘Population Malthus’ by Patricia James · LRB 25 October 1979
"Through interruptions, bereavements and controversies Malthus continued to open up new topics till, at the end of his life, he was engaged in helping to launch the London Statistical Society."
lrb_project  malthus 
october 2018 by joncgoodwin
Dispelling “the Malthus myth” – International Socialism
From the publication of his first writings, Malthus’ ideas rapidly made it into the mainstream. Eugenicists tacked on their ideas of racial superiority to Malthusian concerns and the resultant poisonous mix made the perfect ideology to justify colonialism and empire. Malthus himself had become the first professor of political economy, teaching a generation of future administrators of empire about the “perils of overpopulation” and the “pointlessness of charity”. Charles Trevelyan, wh...
society  malthus  politics 
may 2018 by evilsofa
Reid Hofmann and Peter Thiel and technology and politics - Marginal REVOLUTION
econotariat  marginal-rev  links  video  interview  thiel  barons  randy-ayndy  cryptocurrency  ai  communism  individualism-collectivism  civil-liberty  sv  tech  automation  speedometer  stagnation  technology  politics  current-events  trends  democracy  usa  malthus  zero-positive-sum  china  asia  stanford  news  org:local  polarization  economics  cycles  growth-econ  zeitgeist  housing  urban-rural  california  the-west  decentralized  privacy  anonymity  inequality  multi  winner-take-all  realpolitik  machiavelli  error  order-disorder  leviathan  dirty-hands  the-world-is-just-atoms  heavy-industry  embodied  engineering  reflection  trump  2016-election  pessimism  definite-planning  optimism  left-wing  right-wing  steel-man  managerial-state  orwellian  vampire-squid  contrarianism  age-generation  econ-productivity  compensation  time-series  feudal  gnosis-logos 
february 2018 by nhaliday
Charles Mann: Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People? - The Atlantic
And here is the origin of the decades-long dispute between Wizards and Prophets. Although the argument is couched in terms of calories per acre and ecosystem conservation, the disagreement at bottom is about the nature of agriculture—and, with it, the best form of society. To Borlaugians, farming is a kind of useful drudgery that should be eased and reduced as much as possible to maximize individual liberty. To Vogtians, agriculture is about maintaining a set of communities, ecological and human, that have cradled life since the first agricultural revolution, 10,000-plus years ago. It can be drudgery, but it is also work that reinforces the human connection to the Earth. The two arguments are like skew lines, not on the same plane.

My daughter is 19 now, a sophomore in college. In 2050, she will be middle-aged. It will be up to her generation to set up the institutions, laws, and customs that will provide for basic human needs in the world of 10 billion. Every generation decides the future, but the choices made by my children’s generation will resonate for as long as demographers can foresee. Wizard or Prophet? The choice will be less about what this generation thinks is feasible than what it thinks is good.
agriculture  demographics  growth  forecast  WilliamVogt  NormanBorlaug  Malthus  GreenRevolution  global  TheAtlantic  2018 
january 2018 by inspiral
The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Forthcoming April 2018

How the latest cutting-edge science offers a fuller picture of life in Rome and antiquity
This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive look at how the latest advances in the sciences are transforming our understanding of ancient Roman history. Walter Scheidel brings together leading historians, anthropologists, and geneticists at the cutting edge of their fields, who explore novel types of evidence that enable us to reconstruct the realities of life in the Roman world.

Contributors discuss climate change and its impact on Roman history, and then cover botanical and animal remains, which cast new light on agricultural and dietary practices. They exploit the rich record of human skeletal material--both bones and teeth—which forms a bio-archive that has preserved vital information about health, nutritional status, diet, disease, working conditions, and migration. Complementing this discussion is an in-depth analysis of trends in human body height, a marker of general well-being. This book also assesses the contribution of genetics to our understanding of the past, demonstrating how ancient DNA is used to track infectious diseases, migration, and the spread of livestock and crops, while the DNA of modern populations helps us reconstruct ancient migrations, especially colonization.

Opening a path toward a genuine biohistory of Rome and the wider ancient world, The Science of RomanHistory offers an accessible introduction to the scientific methods being used in this exciting new area of research, as well as an up-to-date survey of recent findings and a tantalizing glimpse of what the future holds.

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. He is the author or editor of seventeen previous books, including The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton).
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Review of Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Yuval Harari's prominent book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind gets a thorough and well deserved fisking by C.R. Hallpike.

For Harari the great innovation that separated us from the apes was what he calls the Cognitive Revolution, around 70,000 years ago when we started migrating out of Africa, which he thinks gave us the same sort of modern minds that we have now. 'At the individual level, ancient foragers were the most knowledgeable and skilful people in history...Survival in that area required superb mental abilities from everyone' (55), and 'The people who carved the Stadel lion-man some 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities we have' (44). Not surprisingly, then, 'We'd be able to explain to them everything we know - from the adventures of Alice in Wonderland to the paradoxes of quantum physics - and they could teach us how their people view the world' (23).

It's a sweet idea, and something like this imagined meeting actually took place a few years ago between the linguist Daniel Everett and the Piraha foragers of the Amazon in Peru (Everett 2008). But far from being able to discuss quantum theory with them, he found that the Piraha couldn't even count, and had no numbers of any kind, They could teach Everett how they saw the world, which was entirely confined to the immediate experience of the here-and-now, with no interest in past or future, or really in anything that could not be seen or touched. They had no myths or stories, so Alice in Wonderland would have fallen rather flat as well.


Summing up the book as a whole, one has often had to point out how surprisingly little he seems to have read on quite a number of essential topics. It would be fair to say that whenever his facts are broadly correct they are not new, and whenever he tries to strike out on his own he often gets things wrong, sometimes seriously. So we should not judge Sapiens as a serious contribution to knowledge but as 'infotainment', a publishing event to titillate its readers by a wild intellectual ride across the landscape of history, dotted with sensational displays of speculation, and ending with blood-curdling predictions about human destiny. By these criteria it is a most successful book.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
“Editor’s Introduction to The New Economic History and the Industrial Revolution,” J. Mokyr (1998) | A Fine Theorem
I taught a fun three hours on the Industrial Revolution in my innovation PhD course this week. The absolutely incredible change in the condition of mankind that began in a tiny corner of Europe in an otherwise unremarkable 70-or-so years is totally fascinating. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath are so important to human history that I find it strange that we give people PhDs in social science without requiring at least some study of what happened.

My post today draws heavily on Joel Mokyr’s lovely, if lengthy, summary of what we know about the period. You really should read the whole thing, but if you know nothing about the IR, there are really five facts of great importance which you should be aware of.

1) The world was absurdly poor from the dawn of mankind until the late 1800s, everywhere.
2) The average person did not become richer, nor was overall economic growth particularly spectacular, during the Industrial Revolution; indeed, wages may have fallen between 1760 and 1830.
3) Major macro inventions, and growth, of the type seen in England in the late 1700s and early 1800s happened many times in human history.
4) It is hard for us today to understand how revolutionary ideas like “experimentation” or “probability” were.
5) The best explanations for “why England? why in the late 1700s? why did growth continue?” do not involve colonialism, slavery, or famous inventions.
econotariat  broad-econ  economics  growth-econ  cjones-like  summary  divergence  industrial-revolution  list  top-n  mokyr-allen-mccloskey  hi-order-bits  aphorism  wealth  wealth-of-nations  malthus  revolution  innovation  the-trenches  science  europe  the-great-west-whale  britain  conceptual-vocab  history  early-modern  technology  long-short-run  econ-metrics  data  time-series  conquest-empire  india  asia  scale  attaq  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation  roots  cycles  flux-stasis  whiggish-hegelian 
october 2017 by nhaliday
Economic Growth in Ancient Greece | pseudoerasmus
Maybe land-and-dung expansion does not really require a fancy institutional explanation. Territory expanded, land yields rose, and people have always traded their surpluses. Why invoke “inclusive institutions”, as Ober effectively does, for something so mundane ? Perhaps the seminal cultural accomplishments of classical Greece bias some of us to look for “special” causes of the expansion.

Note, this is not an argument that political economy or “institutions” play no role in the rise and decline of economies. But in this particular case, so little seems established about the descriptive statistics, let alone the “growth accounting”, of Greek economic expansion in 800-300 BCE that it’s premature to be speculating about its institutional causes.
econotariat  pseudoE  broad-econ  commentary  books  review  economics  growth-econ  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  critique  institutions  egalitarianism-hierarchy  malthus  demographics  population  density  wealth  wealth-of-nations  political-econ  divergence  europe  the-great-west-whale  data  archaeology  measurement  scale  agriculture  econ-productivity  efficiency  article  gregory-clark  galor-like  long-short-run  medieval  nordic  technology  north-weingast-like  democracy  roots  summary  endo-exo  input-output  walter-scheidel  endogenous-exogenous  uncertainty 
june 2017 by nhaliday

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