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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 243-244 of newly minted economics laureate Angus Deaton’s 2013 book, The Great Escape (original emphasis; link added; footnote deleted):

In spite of the prophecies of doom, the population explosion failed to plunge the world into famine and destitution.  On the contrary, the past half-century has seen not only the decrease in mortality that caused the explosion but also a mass escape from the poverty and deprivation that the population explosion was supposed to cause.  What happened, and how could we all have been so wrong?

Not everyone was wrong.  The economist and demographer Julian Simon consistently challenged the doomsayers, making uncannily correct predictions about future plenty using arguments that are much more widely accepted today than they were at the time.  In his The Ultimate Resource, Simon argued that the real source of prosperity is neither land, nor natural resources that might one day be exhausted, but people.  Not only does each new mouth bring with it a future worker – which in the long run would make average incomes independent of population size – but it comes with a creative brain.  The new ideas that come from some of these new brains are good not only for their owners but also for all of mankind.


In today’s Wall Street Journal (gated) David Henderson applauds the Nobel committee for its selection of Angus Deaton as this year’s Prize winner.  I join in that applause.  Here’s a slice from David’s essay:

Mr. Deaton is a strong critic of foreign aid. He believes that the approximately $5 trillion given by governments of rich countries to poor countries over the past 50 years has undercut good governance by making poor countries’ leaders less accountable to their own citizens.


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