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In the Long-Run, We're All Living Better (Where A Culture of Enterprise and Honesty Prevails)

Reflecting on this empirical finding reported in Gregory Clark‘s forthcoming book, Tyler Cowen rightly asks “What’s a small recent blip in the data?”:

…unskilled male wages in England have risen more since the Industrial Revolution than skilled wages, and this result holds for all advanced economies.  The wage premium for skilled building workers has declined from about 100 percent in the thirteenth century to 25 percent now.

The book is A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, and it will be published by Princeton University Press.  The quotation above is from page 298 of the book’s first draft.  I am very eager to read it!

Being forever bombarded, as we are, by the huffing and puffing and pontificating and posturing of politicians and pundits who see disaster looming in every downward bounce in the data — especially when these bounces occur when their party is out of power — it’s important to keep in mind the enormous benefits that open, entrepreneurial, competitive markets have delivered to humankind.  And because even the most wisely defined and carefully collected data ceaselessly blip up and down from their trends, the burden of proof for allegations that any current downward blips signal a departure from the trends of the past few centuries in market-oriented economies should be placed squarely and very heavily on the shoulders of those who make such allegations.

Don’t miss Tyler’s column in today’s New York Times, in which he elaborates more on Greg Clark’s forthcoming book.