By the way, Lemin Wu remains highly undervalued

Lemin is recently out of UC Berkeley, and I have heard that he is on the American market right now.

Here is Lemin’s paper on the Malthusian trap (pdf), one of the most interesting papers of the last few years.  The key point is that some kinds of production drive down living standards and other kinds of production do not, therefore enriching and disaggregating Malthus’s theory, some might say overturning it.  Here is one excerpt:

It follows that the Romans were rich not because technological progress temporarily exceeded population growth—as Malthusianists claim—but because Rome had a business-friendly legal system and an active market economy. Well-functioning courts and market-places boost industry more than they boost agriculture. Thus biasing production structure to luxury, they raised the average living standards of the whole society. Conversely, the Agricultural Revolution left an unfortunate legacy: the hunter-and-gatherer-turned peasants failed to achieve the level of leisure and nutrition their ancestors once enjoyed (Diamond, 1987). Growth was immiserizing because agriculture biased production structure to subsistence. The same tragedy recurred when potato dominated the Irish diet in the late 18th century.

Lemin then introduces cross-societal migration into the model and shows that “…A tiny bit of bias in migration (say, if people are extremely reluctant to move and slow to learn) can still suppress a strong tendency of growth.”  The Industrial Revolutipn did not come to Song China because there were insufficient mechanisms for exclusion.

Here is Lemin Wu’s home page.  Here are some of his other papers and ideas.


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