Thursday, September 03, 2009

It wasn't the industrial revolution that ignited living standards, it was sugar - centuries earlier

Says this fascinating paper:

Coffee, consumer choice, and the consequences of Columbus

Jonathan Hersh Hans-Joachim Voth
3 September 2009

"There is a broad consensus that living standards stagnated for millennia before the Industrial Revolution. This column attributes that conclusion to a measurement error in real wage indices. The introduction of new goods such as coffee, sugar, and tea to England in the 1700s and 1800s dramatically raised living standards – perhaps more than 15%."