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Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen?

Interesting article on economic history from Gary North.
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The economic historian Gregory Clark summarizes a remarkable fact.

. . . there is no sign of any improvement in material conditions for settled agrarian societies as we approach 1800. There was no gain between 1800 BC and AD 1800 — a period of 3,600 years. Indeed the wages for east and south Asia and southern Europe for 1800 stand out by their low level compared to those for ancient Babylonia, ancient Greece, or Roman Egypt.

Then, around 1800, this all changed. Economic growth began: about 2% per annum, compounded. That brought our world into existence.

We are the great beneficiaries of a process that few people understand. No one has explained cogently how it came into existence. A rate of growth so slow that no one could perceive it at the time has created a world that would have been inconceivable in 1800.

This change has taken a mere three generations. This is simply inconceivable.

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