Short History of Economic Progress

A Course in Economic History

By Y.S. Brenner

© 2005 – Routledge

320 pages

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Paperback: 9780415512367
pub: 2011-12-12
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Hardback: 9780415382397
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About the Book

Y. S. Brenner is an economist whose main concern is with development, and this attitude is reflected in his approach to economic history.

He begins this seminal study in the era of the Reformation in Europe, and bases it on the hypothesis that once started, economic progress will spread over ever-increasing parts of the earth wherever and whenever conditions become suitable. From this point of view, he examines the nature of the impediments which prevent the more rapid and general progress of mankind towards greater material affluence, while at the same time considering the positive growth promoting factors in the various economies. Thus, he provides an analysis of economic progress in the developed countries showing which natural, social, political and cultural forces promoted such progress and which delayed or hindered it. He attempts to explain why European nations took several decades to emulate the achievements of Britain and why nations in other parts of the world, such as Japan and Russia, were unable for a considerable time to match the advances made in parts of Western Europe and the United States. Finally, he attempts to explain why the developing countries are still finding it so difficult to catch up with the economic progress of the more advanced nations.

Y. S. Brenner was Head of the Department of Economics at Cape Coast University in Ghana. The book arose from a series of lectures on economic development he delivered there during the years 1966–1967. This book was first published in 1969.

Table of Contents

I The beginnings

Introduction: Some General Ideas

Population Growth and the New Agriculture 7

Urbanisation, Transport and the Growth of Markets 21

Machines and New Sources of Power 32

II Population

World Trends in Population Growth 53

The Accretion of People in Europe 53

Economic Conditions and Population Trends 67

III Agriculture

Progress in Agriculture: General Observations 96

The Widening of the World’s Cultivated Area and the Rising Per-caput Output of People Employed in Agriculture 100

Delays in the Emulation of Modern Farming Techniques in Eastern Europe 109

The Increasing Per Acre Yield of Cultivated Land 118

Capital and Organisation 124

IV Industry

The Coming of Industry: General Observations 145

Transport and the Transformation of Commerce 154

Science, Natural Resources and New Sources of Power 159

The Waning of the Political and Institutional Impediments to Economic progress in Continental Europe 161

The Industrialisation of North America 171

Industrial Progress in Pre-Revolutionary Russia 176

The Industrialisation of Japan 183

V The New Era

The Rise in Living Standards 196

The United States of America: Competition among Capitalists and the Rise of Organised Labour 204

The Soviet Union: Growth without Capitalistic Competition 217

Japan: Industrial Growth and International Competition 229

Israel: A Special Case 238

VI The Underdeveloped Countries

Thinly and Densely Populated Areas 264

Thinly Populated Countries 268

The ‘Overpopulated’ Countries 282

An Afterthought 292

Index 296

About the Series

Economic History

Routledge Library Editions: Economic History reprints some of the most important works on economic history published in the last century.
For further information on this collection please email info.research@routledge.co.uk.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUS023000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
REF000000
REFERENCE / General