THE GREAT LEVELER VIOLENCE AND THE HISTORY OF INEQUALITY FROM THE STONE AGE TO THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY THE PRINCETON ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE WESTERN WORLD

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The Great Leveler

Author : Walter Scheidel
ISBN : 9781400884605
Genre : History
File Size : 88.75 MB
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Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world. Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling—mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues—have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Scheidel identifies and examines these processes, from the crises of the earliest civilizations to the cataclysmic world wars and communist revolutions of the twentieth century. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future. An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent—and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
Category: History

The Great Leveler

Author : Walter Scheidel
ISBN : 0691165025
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 76.27 MB
Format : PDF, ePub
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Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Periods of increased equality are usually born of carnage and disaster and are generally short-lived, disappearing with the return of peace and stability. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world. Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling--mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues--have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Scheidel identifies and examines these processes, from the crises of the earliest civilizations to the cataclysmic world wars and communist revolutions of the twentieth century. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future. An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent--and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
Category: Business & Economics

Why Did Europe Conquer The World

Author : Philip T. Hoffman
ISBN : 9781400865840
Genre : History
File Size : 33.13 MB
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Between 1492 and 1914, Europeans conquered 84 percent of the globe. But why did Europe establish global dominance, when for centuries the Chinese, Japanese, Ottomans, and South Asians were far more advanced? In Why Did Europe Conquer the World?, Philip Hoffman demonstrates that conventional explanations—such as geography, epidemic disease, and the Industrial Revolution—fail to provide answers. Arguing instead for the pivotal role of economic and political history, Hoffman shows that if certain variables had been different, Europe would have been eclipsed, and another power could have become master of the world. Hoffman sheds light on the two millennia of economic, political, and historical changes that set European states on a distinctive path of development, military rivalry, and war. This resulted in astonishingly rapid growth in Europe's military sector, and produced an insurmountable lead in gunpowder technology. The consequences determined which states established colonial empires or ran the slave trade, and even which economies were the first to industrialize. Debunking traditional arguments, Why Did Europe Conquer the World? reveals the startling reasons behind Europe's historic global supremacy.
Category: History

A Culture Of Growth

Author : Joel Mokyr
ISBN : 9781400882915
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 56.11 MB
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During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today's unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations for the scientific advances and pioneering inventions that would instigate explosive technological and economic development. Bringing together economics, the history of science and technology, and models of cultural evolution, Mokyr demonstrates that culture—the beliefs, values, and preferences in society that are capable of changing behavior—was a deciding factor in societal transformations. Mokyr looks at the period 1500–1700 to show that a politically fragmented Europe fostered a competitive "market for ideas" and a willingness to investigate the secrets of nature. At the same time, a transnational community of brilliant thinkers known as the “Republic of Letters” freely circulated and distributed ideas and writings. This political fragmentation and the supportive intellectual environment explain how the Industrial Revolution happened in Europe but not China, despite similar levels of technology and intellectual activity. In Europe, heterodox and creative thinkers could find sanctuary in other countries and spread their thinking across borders. In contrast, China’s version of the Enlightenment remained controlled by the ruling elite. Combining ideas from economics and cultural evolution, A Culture of Growth provides startling reasons for why the foundations of our modern economy were laid in the mere two centuries between Columbus and Newton.
Category: Business & Economics

Grave New World

Author : Stephen D. King
ISBN : 9780300240078
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 74.15 MB
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A controversial look at the end of globalization and what it means for prosperity, peace, and the global economic order Globalization, long considered the best route to economic prosperity, is not inevitable. An approach built on the principles of free trade and, since the 1980s, open capital markets, is beginning to fracture. With disappointing growth rates across the Western world, nations are no longer willing to sacrifice national interests for global growth; nor are their leaders able—or willing—to sell the idea of pursuing a global agenda of prosperity to their citizens. Combining historical analysis with current affairs, economist Stephen D. King provides a provocative and engaging account of why globalization is being rejected, what a world ruled by rival states with conflicting aims might look like, and how the pursuit of nationalist agendas could result in a race to the bottom. King argues that a rejection of globalization and a return to “autarky” will risk economic and political conflict, and he uses lessons from history to gauge how best to avoid the worst possible outcomes.
Category: Business & Economics

Global Inequality

Author : Branko Milanovic
ISBN : 9780674969766
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 79.50 MB
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Branko Milanovic presents a bold account of the dynamics that drive inequality on a global scale. Using vast data sets, he explains the forces that make inequality rise and fall within and among nations over time. He reveals who has been helped by globalization, who has been hurt, andwhat policies might tilt the balance toward economic justice.
Category: Business & Economics

The Great Convergence

Author : Richard Baldwin
ISBN : 9780674660489
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 67.77 MB
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From 1820 to 1990 the share of world income going to today’s wealthy nations soared from 20% to 70%. That share has recently plummeted. Richard Baldwin shows how the combination of high tech with low wages propelled industrialization in developing nations, deindustrialization in developed nations, and a commodity supercycle that is petering out.
Category: Business & Economics

Unequal Gains

Author : Peter H. Lindert
ISBN : 9781400880348
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 49.79 MB
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Unequal Gains offers a radically new understanding of the economic evolution of the United States, providing a complete picture of the uneven progress of America from colonial times to today. While other economic historians base their accounts on American wealth, Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson focus instead on income—and the result is a bold reassessment of the American economic experience. America has been exceptional in its rising inequality after an egalitarian start, but not in its long-run growth. America had already achieved world income leadership by 1700, not just in the twentieth century as is commonly thought. Long before independence, American colonists enjoyed higher living standards than Britain—and America's income advantage today is no greater than it was three hundred years ago. But that advantage was lost during the Revolution, lost again during the Civil War, and lost a third time during the Great Depression, though it was regained after each crisis. In addition, Lindert and Williamson show how income inequality among Americans rose steeply in two great waves—from 1774 to 1860 and from the 1970s to today—rising more than in any other wealthy nation in the world. Unequal Gains also demonstrates how the widening income gaps have always touched every social group, from the richest to the poorest. The book sheds critical light on the forces that shaped American income history, and situates that history in a broad global context. Economic writing at its most stimulating, Unequal Gains provides a vitally needed perspective on who has benefited most from American growth, and why.
Category: Business & Economics

The Evolution Of A Nation

Author : Daniel Berkowitz
ISBN : 9780691136042
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 87.60 MB
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Although political and legal institutions are essential to any nation's economic development, the forces that have shaped these institutions are poorly understood. Drawing on rich evidence about the development of the American states from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century, this book documents the mechanisms through which geographical and historical conditions--such as climate, access to water transportation, and early legal systems--impacted political and judicial institutions and economic growth. The book shows how a state's geography and climate influenced whether elites based their wealth in agriculture or trade. States with more occupationally diverse elites in 1860 had greater levels of political competition in their legislature from 1866 to 2000. The book also examines the effects of early legal systems. Because of their colonial history, thirteen states had an operational civil-law legal system prior to statehood. All of these states except Louisiana would later adopt common law. By the late eighteenth century, the two legal systems differed in their balances of power. In civil-law systems, judiciaries were subordinate to legislatures, whereas in common-law systems, the two were more equal. Former civil-law states and common-law states exhibit persistent differences in the structure of their courts, the retention of judges, and judicial budgets. Moreover, changes in court structures, retention procedures, and budgets occur under very different conditions in civil-law and common-law states. The Evolution of a Nation illustrates how initial geographical and historical conditions can determine the evolution of political and legal institutions and long-run growth.
Category: Business & Economics

The Fate Of Rome

Author : Kyle Harper
ISBN : 9781400888917
Genre : History
File Size : 27.94 MB
Format : PDF
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A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease helped bring down the Roman Empire Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome’s power—a story of nature’s triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. He takes readers from Rome’s pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a “little ice age” and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague. A poignant reflection on humanity’s intimate relationship with the environment, The Fate of Rome provides a sweeping account of how one of history’s greatest civilizations encountered and endured, yet ultimately succumbed to the cumulative burden of nature’s violence. The example of Rome is a timely reminder that climate change and germ evolution have shaped the world we inhabit—in ways that are surprising and profound.
Category: History