Prof. Deirdre McCloskey explains how changes in Holland and England in the 1600s and 1700s opened the door for innovation to take off.

Deirdre McCloskey has been a professor of economics, history, English, communications, philosophy and classics, and arts and culture at various points in her career. She is best known for her contributions to the understanding of the economic history of Britain, the quantification of historical inquiry, the rhetoric of economics and human sciences, economic methodology, virtue ethics, feminist economics, heterodox economics, the role of mathematics in economic analysis, and the role of significance testing in economics.

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.