Arnold Kling  

DeLong is no Slouch

Uncertainty and Bias... Please, Doctor, Treat M...

I cannot figure out the status of Brad DeLong's The Economic History of the Twentieth Century: Slouching Towards Utopia?. When I go here, it looks like an abandoned project. But just yesterday, Brad wrote,

In some ways the world economy at the start of the twentieth century was still remarkably preindustrial. Most human beings still earned their bread out of the earth by the sweat of their brow. Most human beings could not read. Most human beings had not seen a steam engine up close, or traveled in a railway train, or spoken on a telephone, or lived in a city. For most human beings life expectancy was still low--little higher than it had been in most parts of the world since the neolithic revolution...When Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany went to war against France in the spring of 1940, four-fifths of the wheeled and tracked vehicles in its army were powered by horses. And mules.

...A quarter of American households in 1900 had boarders or lodgers (compared to two percent today). Half of American households in 1900 had fewer rooms than persons (compared to five percent today). A quarter of American households in 1900 had running water (compared to ninety-nine percent today). An eighth of American households in 1900 had flush toilets (compared to ninety-eight percent today).

Read the whole thing, as well as the subsequent post. Does the project yet live?

By "slouching," Brad means that world economic growth took off in spite of governments that fell far short of what he thinks they can be in terms of benevolence and wisdom.

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CATEGORIES: Economic History

COMMENTS (5 to date)
spencer writes:

the second meaning of slouch is:

to go or move slowly or reluctantly

so I doubt Delong had the meaning you are reading into it.

Maybe more like just the opposite that with good government growth would have been much stronger.

Troy Camplin writes:

The reason we slouched was precisely because people thought government was or even should be the source of all benevolence and wisdom. We managed to get there despite it all.

Dan writes:

[Comment deleted for supplying false email address. A valid email address is a requirement for posting comments to EconLog. Please email the to restore this comment.--Econlib Ed.]

spencer writes:

Dan it is not a book -- it is a first draft at the web location cited.

dearieme writes:

Let's hope that the second draft improves on "When Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany went to war against France in the spring of 1940".

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