DeLong is no Slouch
By Arnold Kling
I cannot figure out the status of Brad DeLong’s The Economic History of the Twentieth Century: Slouching Towards Utopia?. When I go here, it looks like an abandoned project. But just yesterday, Brad wrote,
In some ways the world economy at the start of the twentieth century was still remarkably preindustrial. Most human beings still earned their bread out of the earth by the sweat of their brow. Most human beings could not read. Most human beings had not seen a steam engine up close, or traveled in a railway train, or spoken on a telephone, or lived in a city. For most human beings life expectancy was still low–little higher than it had been in most parts of the world since the neolithic revolution…When Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany went to war against France in the spring of 1940, four-fifths of the wheeled and tracked vehicles in its army were powered by horses. And mules.
…A quarter of American households in 1900 had boarders or lodgers (compared to two percent today). Half of American households in 1900 had fewer rooms than persons (compared to five percent today). A quarter of American households in 1900 had running water (compared to ninety-nine percent today). An eighth of American households in 1900 had flush toilets (compared to ninety-eight percent today).
Read the whole thing, as well as the subsequent post. Does the project yet live?
By “slouching,” Brad means that world economic growth took off in spite of governments that fell far short of what he thinks they can be in terms of benevolence and wisdom.