THE BIRTH OF PLENTY
HOW THE PROSPERITY OF THE MODERN WORLD WAS CREATED.
William J Bernstein
[pounds sterling]19.99 McGraw Hill
The Birth of Plenty suggests--and supports with groundbreaking analysis--that from the dawn of recorded history through to 1820, the majority of mankind experienced essentially zero growth both in economic standing and in living standards. It was only in the 19th century that the world's standard of living began to inexorably and irreversibly improve, and the modern world was born.
Author William Bernstein, a noted financial expert and neurologist, asks what changed in the developed world, and why, when "not long after 1820 prosperity began flowing in an ever increasing torrent; with each successive generation, the life of the son became observably more comfortable, informed and predictable than that of the father".
In answering his own question, Bernstein isolates the four conditions that when they occurred simultaneously, constitute an all-inclusive formula for human progress. They are: property rights--as wealth creators must have adequate incentives to create; scientific rationalism--as innovators must possess the proper intellectual tools in order to innovate and must be able to do so without fear of retribution; capital markets--as entrepreneurs must have access to sufficient capital to pursue their vision; and transport and communication--as society...