For most of human
history, almost all of humanity lived lives that were nasty, brutish, and
short. Then, in the 18th century, the Great Enrichment began lifting millions,
then hundreds of millions, and now billions of people out of extreme poverty.
This is a process that many now take for granted — many people don’t think
about how we came to enjoy our current standard of living, and they don’t
consider what needs to be done to maintain or improve that standard. So, as
many people advocate slowing economic growth to protect against disruption, and
things like the COVID pandemic introduce new challenges for the global economy,
it’s worth reflecting on the history of the global economy and the lessons we
can learn for today. I’m pleased to discuss it with Philip Coggan.
Phil has been a writer for The Economist since 2006, where he authors the weekly Bartleby column on work and management. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is More: A History of the World Economy from the Iron Age to the Information Age.