Arnold Kling

Knowledge and Growth

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Nick Schulz reviews Joel Mokyr's The Gifts of Athena.

knowledge made Malthus irrelevant. Modern agricultural techniques, grounded in science, increased crop yields to feed the growing population spawned by industrial growth. (Malthus had predicted chronic food shortages.) Meanwhile, the science and technology behind the Industrial Revolution transformed old economies into inorganic and mineral-based ones, in which stored-up resources, such as fossil fuels, were unlocked for mankind's benefit. This transformation, in turn, helped make possible the modern factory system, as well as electricity grids and the intricate networks for travel and information that are essential to the functioning of modern economies.

Mokyr's book (which is on my to-read list) evidently talks about the institutional and cultural changes that unleashed knowledge that led to economic growth.

Discussion Question. If growth results from the development, spread, and application of knowledge, then how might the Internet affect growth?

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