Estimates for private per-capita consumption from 1760 to 1831, for example, suggest that it rose only by about 22%.
I don’t think that’s true, I think we’ve a terrible mismeasurement problem there. But let us assume that it is and we can see why I hate John Naughton.
Because he’s diving into the economics meets technology bit, that’s fine, I do it a lot myself. But without understanding the economics he’s talking about, not fine. It’s the only there that grates.
Leaving aside the aftermath of the Black Death, fairly special circumstances, that’s the fastest growth in personal consumption per capita up to that date.That 70 years is almost certainly more than it rose in the previous 2 centuries.
And that’s a hugely important economics point. In fact, it’s the one we want to explain. 10,000 years of agriculture and the only time living standards rose was when everyone else die. Then something else happens an we get, for the first time, substantial, sustained growth in the living standards of everyman.
It’s actually “the” economic question. What the fuck happened and how do we make sure it doesn’t stop?