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1 Problem Set One Solutions: Donated by Jennifer L ao: 1. Thomas Malthus, in 1798, claimed that while population grew exponentially, the food supply increased only arithmetically. Thus at some point these two lines would cross and humanity was doomed to exceed its own means of subsistence. In order for the population to be placed back below its carrying capacity, Malthus believed that natural measures would be taken to lower the population. The first of these measures were "positive checks" such as disease, plague, and famine, which proactively decreased the population. The second type of check was "preventative", and acted through people, whose moral abstention from marriage would keep the fertility rate down. As a result these two checks would prevent the inevitable disparity between demand and supply predicted in Malthus's model, and continue to hold human and food levels balanced. Luckily, though, Malthusian theory does not have much support in the historical experience. In western Europe and in later developed countries such as the U.S. and Japan, mortality rates fell substantially during the 19th and 20th centuries. Furthermore, life expectancy increased in these countries as well. In particular, the average life span in Britain grew by 20 years during the early 1900s. These developments probably occurred because of better nutrition and health, sanitation, as well as leaps in modern medicine. Thus, the positive check pressure of Malthusian theory had failed to counteract this large population growth. Secondly, Malthus also forgot to consider his model without ceteris paribus assumptions. Without all things held equal, resources such as new land as well as more workers could be used as more factor inputs into food production, which indeed occurred with the discovery of the new world and the entering of women and children into the labor force during the industrial revolution. In fact, during the industrial revolution it was shown that agricultural production increased significantly, and the food supply at this time was not increasing arithmetically, but geometrically. Improvements in productivity were also results of more efficient practices and newer technology. Douglas North, in Structures and Change in Economic History, indicates that the tremendous increase in agricultural productivity during the revolution led to a mere 5% of the population engaged in agriculture providing enough to feed themselves as well as the remaining 95% of the population. Lastly, Robert W. Fogel dealt a final blow to Malthusian theory with his collaborative research on the correlation between physiological traits and subsistence. Fogel showed that calorie intake levels corresponded heavily with physical features such as height and body size; those people at the lower ends of the subsistence level were able to survive because their bodies, being "stunted" and "wasted", had adapted to their lower calorie consumption level. Thus rather than one level of subsistence, there were different levels at which bodies were at equilibrium with their food intake and were able to sustain life. Malthusian's concept of a set subsistence level where those lower than it would die off, was moot. One of the only ways in which Malthus was correct was his indication of "preventative checks" to the population. Peter Laslett, in "The World We Have Lost: Further Explored" explains that between the 16th to 18th century in Britain, the average age of marriage was about 25, an age that does not agree with a previously believed

2 prevalence of child marriage. Thus, the fertility rate was limited with abstention from marriage, as it is today, but with the addition of contraception and abortion. It is difficult to capture demography into one all encompassing theory. Malthus was rather off, however modifications to his theory that take into account Fogel's population theory, the ever-increasing agricultural productivity affecting food supply, and continual changes in technology, medicine, health, and sanitation, may be closer. Demographic Transition theory is one way to explain the patterns of developing countries as it proposes that during development, societies will face a decrease in mortality rate, followed by a decrease in the birth rate. Though this theory is far from complete, it may help in finding a more comprehensive explanation of population trends. Donated by Addie Yandell: 2. A look through history reveals that economic dominance comes from several factors. During the early world, geography seems to have played a major role in determining which regions prospered and which did not. Later, as institutions and governments began to be formed it seems that these more cultural aspects of a population played a major role in determining economic growth. In the early world, it seems that geography played a large role in determining which countries would gain economic dominance. For example, settlement as opposed to migrating tribes was a large factor in development. Settlement allowed for a larger population, government structure, written language, and invention, among other things. However, settlement was only feasible where agriculture and animal domestication were possible. This may have given Europe an edge over countries such as Africa and the Americas. Eurasia had more species of animal available for domestication than any other place on the globe. Also, the more temperate climate gave rise to more crops that could be used to feed a settled population than places such as desert regions or mountains. Easy access to water gave rise to irrigation in places that had rivers, lakes, or oceans (whereas land locked regions had more difficulty irrigating plants). Settlements eventually grew into cities, which were good for the exchange of ideas and information. This free flow of thought allowed for more invention than would have occurred otherwise. As European empires grew, Europeans began to stretch their boundaries beyond Europe, colonizing places like Africa and the Americas. In particular, in the Americas, Europeans had a large advantage due to the germs that they carried. This can also be traced to their geography. Since Europeans had a relatively large number of domesticated species, they had acquired immunities to germs carried by these animals. However, the natives in the new world did not have these immunities and had very few germs to give back to the Europeans. (Syphilis being one example of a native disease.) However, geography was not the only contributing factor to explain Europe s economic dominance. Certain cultural aspects of Europe also gave it a leading edge over places such as the Americas and China. For example, the Aztecs who were taken over by the Spaniards had a very different government structure than the Spaniards. For the Spaniards, there was a fair amount of loyalty to their country. However the Aztecs took slaves, ruled by

3 fear, and had subservient empires. To these people, it did not matter whether the Aztecs or the Spaniards ruled over them, so they were easily swayed to ally with the Spanish. Thus, their weak government structure may have played a part in their fall. The Incas also had a weak government structure when it came to war. Their Emperor was their God and king, and when he died their culture fell apart. A coupling of these factors (disease, government) and Spanish inventions such as guns and boats led to the Spanish conquest of the Incas and Aztecs. European government was a blend of church law, Roman law, and Germanic law. This blend resulted in more personal rights than native societies, while preserving loyalty to a king. China, like Europe, started out with a lot of invention; however, China began to decline while Europe continued to be a rising power. This was primarily due to the contrast between the Chinese government and the European government. Whereas the European governments moved more and more towards personal freedom and individual rights, China moved towards strict government control. Chinese innovation stopped due to this strict government control. As emperors became frightened that their dynasties would end, they imposed strict regulations on their people making invention a risky task. They also kept themselves isolated, and hence did not have the pressure of impending war to force them to innovate as the Europeans did. Europeans also had more rewards for innovation than did the Chinese. In China, there was no monetary incentive to invent, and the emperor was primarily concerned with maintaining control of the people. Hence, there was a large crackdown on dissent and anything that upset the status quo carried with it a risk of punishment (most likely execution). Europe, on the other hand, rewarded their inventors. Patents and monopoly power were established hence invention carried with it a monetary incentive. Political and social recognition was also a reward for invention. These incentives were fostered by an environment of political competition and property rights that did not exist in societies like China. The political competition consisted of wars between states, lords, kings, Churches, cities, and merchants. Property rights included the rights of ownership of inventions, as well as personal (rather than government) control over information and new ideas. On the contrary, in China the government was the sole owner of everything from goods to ideas. Hostile neighbors also seemed to be an advantageous trait for economic growth. Invention comes out of necessity, and for Europe it was always necessary to invent more and get more money to fund and win the constant wars. Once developed, these inventions led to other things as well. The naval ships led to overseas discovery and colonization. The development of guns made colonization easy when compared to tribal weapons. However, perhaps constant warfare was not always the best thing. During the Napoleonic wars, England (which as an island was isolated from them) began the industrial revolution. The steam engine was invented, metallurgy was discovered, and factories and machines started to dominate the textile industry. England had a system of patents and property rights that was better than the rest of Europe. Taxes were

4 comparatively low, law enforcement was good (hence property was secure), and there were laws governing new technology. There were grants towards invention and a monopoly potential once an invention was made. There was a market for invention since the population was booming and England s island status made costal shipping of goods very easy. England also had good roads, rivers, and canals to make transportation easy. Hence, there have been several factors through history that have led certain nations to excel while others declined. Geography was a primary factor during the early formative years of civilizations. Then institutions (such as government and population structure) became the important deciding factor in economic growth. Today it seems that institutions are still key. Places like America, where freedom is a key value and markets are large, continue to excel above and beyond others. Donated by Chloe Tergiman: Question III In terms of agriculture, the techniques used in the early 18 th century were equivalent to the ones used in the 13 th century. But starting around the 1750s, production technology changed rapidly, patenting increased, the share of agriculture declined in favor of manufacturing and population increased. As Ashton put it: A wave of gadgets swept over England. The innovations were in a variety of fields. In textiles for example, the introduction of the spinning Jenny in the 1780s and the Jacquard loom two decades later dramatically changed the cotton threading production process, and the price of cotton fell by 85%. Likewise, even though steam engines existed before, it is only in 1765 with the James Watt double action engine that the steam engine became reliable and efficient (water remained the main power source until the 1850s). In metallurgy there were big improvements in making steel. But the technological improvements aren't the only factor that explains the industrial revolution. Along with technological improvements came changes in the actual production line. Before the industrial revolution, the typical production process would

5 consist of a merchant who would own the good at all steps of the production process. The entrepreneur would put out different jobs to different cottagers. After the industrial revolution, much of the production process moved from the household or little shop to the factory. There, through better supervision there would be more quality control. Also, team production and division of labor made the production process more efficient (less socialization and more of a sense of time ). Whereas in households there would be no expensive machinery, once in a factory, new machinery was used because the concentration of workers there would make it more profitable to use. Having more workers work together also increased learning by doing. Markets were also expanding, with the improvements in transportation and with the expansion of colonies, native population growth (immigration and increase in fertility), as well as a rise in income, markets were naturally bigger. One would think that this revolution could have occurred in many different countries, but it took place in England first. Cliometricians and historians have looked at why that was the case and have concluded that several aspects of the English society may have played a role in leading it to be the first country to go through the first industrial revolution. Douglas North explains that one element that could help explain the fact that many innovations took place in England is the institutions that were in place. Unlike many of the other European countries, England had good enforcement of property rights protection. The king's power was balanced with a strong and viable parliament, and so there was less chances of people's liberties being violated. The government gave grants and encouraged innovations by promising monopoly power to the inventors. On the other hand, in China for example, the emperor decided who would be the inventors, and

6 decided whether or not there would be any inventions, and during the Ming and the Quing Dynasties, innovation and progress were banned. In France, and Germany, there was actual prohibition of new technology to protect old guilds. Taxes were also not as high as in other countries, and because the biggest tax was on wool and that it is easier to tax and control exports from an island, England did not have as much bureaucracy as in other countries like France. England also benefited from being an island in other ways: while in mainland Europe the Napoleonic wars were at their height, thus utilizing much of the labor force, in a rather isolated England, men could focus on working and perfecting existing methods of production. The extensive coast line, rivers (with no tolls) and canal building also favored communication and trade. One other element that could have contributed to the industrial revolution taking place in England was religion. Using Weber's theory on the origins of capitalism, the fact that many people were dissenters from the Church of England, and that much of the skilled labor was comprised of Protestants (many of whom fled France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685), helped foster innovation in England because working was like praying.

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