NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run

Charles I. Jones

NBER Working Paper No. 7375
Issued in October 1999
NBER Program(s):   EFG

This paper studies a growth model that is able to match several key facts of economic history. For thousands of years, the average standard of living seems to have risen very little, despite increases in the level of technology and large increases in the level of the population. Then, after thousands of years of little change, the level of per capita consumption increased dramatically in less than two centuries. Quantitative analysis of the model highlights two factors central to understanding this history. The first is a virtuous circle: more people produce more ideas, which in turn makes additional population growth possible. The second is an improvement in institutions that promote innovation, such as property rights: the simulated economy indicates that the single most important factor in the transition to modern growth has been the increase in the fraction of output pain to compensate inventors for the fruits of their labor.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7375

Published: Advances in Macroeconomics (The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics) Vol. 1: Iss. 2, Article 1 (June 2001): 1-45 citation courtesy of

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