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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 46 No. 4 (December 2008)

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A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World

Article Citation

Allen, Robert C. 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World." Journal of Economic Literature, 46(4): 946-73.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.46.4.946

Abstract

A Farewell to Alms advances striking claims about the economic history of the world. These include (1) the preindustrial world was in a Malthusian preventive check equilibrium, (2) living standards were unchanging and above subsistence for the last 100,000 years, (3) bad institutions were not the cause of economic backwardness, (4) successful economic growth was due to the spread of "middle class" values from the elite to the rest of society for "biological" reasons, (5) workers were the big gainers in the British Industrial Revolution, and (6) the absence of middle class values, for biological reasons, explains why most of the world is poor. The empirical support for these claims is examined, and all are questionable.

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Authors

Allen, Robert C. (Nuffield College, Oxford U)

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N00: Economic History: General


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