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← The Hockey Stick of Human Prosperity

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Showing Revision 5 created 10/27/2017 by Martel Espiritu.

  1. ♪ [music] ♪

  2. - [Don] The astonishing
    growth in prosperity
  3. in the last two
    or three hundred years
  4. is one of the greatest events
    of humankind.
  5. Take the average human
    in, say, the year 1000 BC.
  6. He's poor, fighting to find food
    and to fend off diseases.
  7. Fast forward 500 years
    to the time of classical Greece.
  8. Still poor, still hungry.
  9. How about another
    thousand years after that?
  10. It's the dark ages.
  11. Wow. Still poor.
  12. Then jump to the 18th century
    and forward.
  13. Things change rapidly.
  14. This phenomenon is known
    as the hockey stick
  15. of human prosperity.
  16. Take what is surely one
    of the most important measures
  17. of human well-being:
    life expectancy.
  18. Before the Industrial Revolution,
    life expectancy
  19. was around thirty years.
  20. Today in the United States,
    we expect to live
  21. to be about eighty.
  22. Prior to the industrial revolution,
    one in four kids would die
  23. before the age of 5.
  24. Today in developed countries,
    it is more like 1 in 200.
  25. Due to better nutrition,
    we grow to be four inches taller
  26. than we were just 250 ago.
  27. Remember this disease?
  28. No you don't,
    because it was eradicated in 1977.
  29. Look around -- you'll find a roof
    over your head
  30. and a hard floor under your feet.
  31. Most of our ancestors
    lived in huts with dirt floors
  32. and thatched roofs.
  33. Everything was infested
    with insects and rodents.
  34. Streets and alleys
    were open sewers.
  35. There were none of these.
  36. The filth was horrible
    and often toxic.
  37. Our ancestors ate gruel
  38. and wore the same
    home-made underwear over and over.
  39. Now, even the least fortunate
  40. typically have electricity,
    running water, toilets,
  41. refrigerators, televisions,
    and, yes, cheap washable underwear.
  42. Those of us who live
    in modern industrial society
  43. are incredibly, amazingly,
    off the charts rich
  44. compared to our ancestors,
  45. and here's yet another
    huge difference between us
  46. and our ancestors.
  47. Before the Industrial Revolution,
    people knew how to make
  48. from scratch many of the things
    they consumed.
  49. They made a lot
    of their own clothing,
  50. grew most of their own food,
    and built their own dwellings.
  51. Fast forward to today
    and believe it or not,
  52. none of us has a hint
    of how to make the majority
  53. of the things that we consume.
  54. Just getting ready in the morning
    involves taking many trips
  55. around the globe.
  56. Take this coffee for example.
  57. The beans come from Guatemala,
    and they were brewed
  58. in this coffeemaker
    from Switzerland.
  59. The container ship that carried
    the beans was built in Korea.
  60. It's insured by a company
    from London
  61. and it's captained by a Frenchman
    who loves Turkish cigarettes.
  62. We've transitioned from each of us
    doing many things
  63. to each of us doing one thing.
  64. Having a job only makes sense
    in a modern world
  65. where each individual typically
    does only one type of work.
  66. So while we mostly only produce
    one thing, doing one job,
  67. each of us now consumes
    a whole bunch of products
  68. that require a whole bunch
    of jobs to produce.
  69. The question
    of where prosperity comes from
  70. launched the field of economics.
  71. It's why Adam Smith
    wrote the first book
  72. in modern economics.
  73. An Inquiry into the Nature
    and Causes
  74. of The Wealth of Nations.
  75. Back in 1776 when he published it,
    Smith was trying to understand
  76. the causes of modern prosperity
    that were just starting to appear.
  77. Poverty and starvation
    were still normal as they had been
  78. from the beginning,
    but in the late 18th century,
  79. for the first time ever,
    the masses began to enjoy riches
  80. once reserved only
    for the nobility.
  81. It is this mass prosperity
    that Adam Smith sought to explain.
  82. Why was it happening?
  83. What was causing wealth
    to move from being the exception
  84. to being the norm.
  85. Now we look around,
    and try to figure out
  86. what causes poverty
    instead of what causes prosperity.
  87. You are watching
    Everyday Economics,
  88. a course where we use
    the lens of Economics
  89. to explore everyday questions.
  90. This section is about trade.
  91. In the upcoming videos,
    we will attempt to explain
  92. how trade plays a role
    in our prosperity.
  93. You also get to decide
    where the course goes.
  94. Maybe you have some questions
    related to trade
  95. that you've wondered about.
  96. We'll cover the basics
    and then you tell us
  97. what topics come next.
  98. ♪ [music] ♪