Magazine May 20, 2019, Issue

The Miracle of Industrialization

(Jose Luis Stephens/EyeEm)
Why the world stopped having to be poor

Our species is 300,000 years old. For the first 290,000 years, we were foragers, subsisting in a way that’s still observable among the bushmen of the Kalahari and the Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands. Even after Homo sapiens embraced agriculture, progress was painfully slow. A person born in Sumer in 4,000 b.c.e. would find the resources, work, and technology available in England at the time of the Norman Conquest or in the Aztec Empire at the time of Columbus quite familiar. Then, beginning in the mid 18th century, many people’s standard of living skyrocketed. What brought about this dramatic improvement,

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This article appears as “The Industrial Miracle” in the May 20, 2019, print edition of National Review.

Marian L. TupyMr. Tupy is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and the editor of

In This Issue

In Defense of Markets

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