Pcol writes: "The New York Times is running a story on Dr. Gregory Clark's book "A Farewell to Alms" with a new explanation for the Industrial Revolution and the affluence it created. Dr. Clark, an economic historian at the University of California Davis, postulates that the surge in economic growth that occurred first in England around 1800 came about because of the strange new behaviors of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save. Clark's research shows that between 1200 and 1800, the rich had more surviving children than the poor and that this caused constant downward social mobility as the poor failed to reproduce themselves and the progeny of the rich took over their occupations. "The modern population of the English is largely descended from the economic upper classes of the Middle Ages," Clark concludes. Work hours increased, literacy and numeracy rose, and the level of interpersonal violence dropped. Around 1790, a steady upward trend in production efficiency caused a significant acceleration in the rate of productivity growth that at last made possible England's escape from the Malthusian trap. Why did the Industrial Revolution first occur in England instead of the much larger populations of China or Japan. Clark has found data showing that their richer classes, the Samurai in Japan and the Qing dynasty in China, were surprisingly unfertile and failed to generate the downward social mobility that spread production-oriented values."
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