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May 2014

Why Does 1% of History Have 99% of the Wealth?

Throughout the history of the world, the average person on earth has been extremely poor: subsisting on the modern equivalent of $3 per day. This was true until 1800, at which point average wages—and standards of living—began to rise dramatically. Prof. Deirdre McCloskey explains how this tremendous increase in wealth came about. In the past 30 years alone, the number of people in the world living on less than $3 per day has been halved. The cause of the economic growth we have witnessed in the past 200 years may surprise you. It’s not exploitation, or investment. Innovation—new ideas, new inventions, materials, machinery, organizational structures—has fueled this economic boom.