Between the year zero and 1500 world population and real GDP tripled; world TFP grew by 30%; and as best as we can tell median world living standards did not grow at all. Why didn't 30% growth in TFP have any impact on living standards? How did the world economy work on a very broad scale before the industrial revolution? And why wasn't growth in TFP faster?

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Writing Assignment:

Write a 200-500 essay on whether Gregory Clark was right in his claim that "the real income in Malthusian economies (all economies after 5000 B.C. and before 1800) was determined from the birth rate and death rate schedules alone." You might, as you write your essay, think about the following question: Does this mean that mankind was powerless to improve its material conditions via factors such as technology, social organization, population control, etc.?

At least 18 hours before the class--by 6 PM PST on February 2, 2010--email your paper.

Alternatively, write on the following: Was it in fact the case-as UCLA's Jared Diamond maintains-that the invention of agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of the human race? Which side of this question do you come down on-yes or no-and why? Or, if you want to suspend judgment, what additional facts about the past and present would you need to know before you would come down on one side or the other?

Thoughts, Notes, and Questions:

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Additional and Optional Readings: