Daron Acemoglu writes,

[Prior to 1800,] growth was never based on continuous technological innovations; thus it never resembled the technology-based growth described in Chapters 13-15. Third, in most cases economic institutions that would be necessary to support sustained growth did not develop. Financial relations were generally primitive, contracting institutions remained informal, markets were heavily regulated with various internal tariffs, and incomes and savings did not reach the levels necessary for the mass market and simultaneous investments in a range of activities to become profitable. Put differently, the structural transformations accompanying development discussed in Chapter 21 did not take place. Fourth (and arguably most important and the cause of the first three), all these episodes took place within the context of authoritarian political regimes. They were not broad-based growth experiences. Instead, this was elite-driven growth for the benefit of the elite that largely exploited existing comparative advantages.

Acemoglu offers a distinction between authoritarian regimes and participatory regimes. I see an uncanny resemblance to the North-Wallis-Weingast distinction between limited-access orders (or natural states) and open-access orders.

Thanks to Russ Roberts.

The other book of mine that is supposed to come out this year, co-authored by Nick Schulz and titled From Poverty to Prosperity, appears to be a competitor to Acemoglu. Good luck to us. Geez.