Better to live in Medieval England than Zaire of today. Higher living standards, the castles were in much better shape than they are today, and people were ,
New research led by economists at the University of Warwick reveals that medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world’s poorest nations today.
In a paper entitled British Economic Growth 1270-1870 published by the University of Warwick’s Centre on Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) the researchers find that living standards in medieval England were far above the “bare bones subsistence” experience of people in many of today’s poor countries.
The figure of $400 annually (as expressed in 1990 international dollars) is commonly is used as a measure of “bare bones subsistence” and was previously believed to be the average income in England in the middle ages.
However the University of Warwick led researchers found that English per capita incomes in the late Middle Ages were actually of the order of $1,000 (again as expressed in 1990 dollars). Even on the eve of the Black Death, which first struck in 1348/49, the researchers found per capita incomes in England of more than $800 using the same 1990 dollar measure. Their estimates for other European countries also suggest late medieval living standards well above $400.
These results provide further support for the evidence that Gregory Clark lays out in his book A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. The pre-industrialization Malthusian Trap had such high death rates from disease and influences reducing fertility that human populations lived less resource-poor lives than people in Malthusian Trap nations in Africa today.
This new figure of $1,000 is not only significantly higher than previous estimates for that period in England – it also indicates that on average medieval England was better off than some of the world’s poorest nations today including the following (again average annual income as expressed in 1990 dollars).
- Zaire $249
- Burundi $479
- Niger $514
- Central African Republic $536
- Comoro Islands $549
- Togo $606
- Guinea Bissau $617
- Guinea $628
- Sierra Leone $686
- Haiti $686
- Chad $706
- Zimbabwe $779
- Afghanistan $869
It is worth noting that the efforts of Bill Gates to cure the many diseases of Africa will increase poverty. Weakened immune systems due to malnutrition lead to more disease. If people get their diseases cured they will live longer to compete more with each other for limited food spread out over even more people. The result: lower living standards.
Africa can not rise up without huge increases in average skill levels and productivity combined with equally large declines in fertility. Curing diseases will just make the already severe poverty worse.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2010 December 08 11:01 PM Economics Development|