Re: Understanding Economic Growth

Max More (
Tue, 02 Dec 1997 00:46:59 -0800

At 01:55 PM 11/26/97 -0800, Robin wrote:
>Why does the economy grow? Why do some places and times grow
>faster than others? The relevance to such questions to
>topics frequently discussed on this list should be obvious.
>The capital/labor share of improved productivity is about 50/50.

Is this an average? Or is it true in almost all economies? Does the share
get split evenly right from the start, or does it go more to one factor at

>-- Per capita growth rates between nations have been highly divergent;
>The lower nation that catches up to the higher nation is the
>exception; typically the higher pulls away. The lowest nations now
>are about as low (in per capital income) as all nations were once.

I'm surprised and not convinced without seeing the data. Even if true,
clearly there are cases of convergence. Have factors been identified which
mark the few cases of convergence from the majority of cases of continuing
divergence? (I suspect I know what some of those factors are, but I'm
interested in what the literature says.)

>-- Britain took off initially most likely due to strong social
>controls on birth rates, free markets, and a strong culture of
>hobby science. Even then the takeoff was very slow.

As someone else asked, how could controlling birth rates boost growth?
Surely the opposite? More births means more growth in the long run at
least, as there are more people producing, and more specialization, and
bigger domestic markets.

Thanks for the tidbits of info, Robin. If you have time to answer these
questions, I'd like to see what you say.

Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute:,