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Old November 9th, 2017, 12:25 PM   #1
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Standard of living from Mesopotamia until Industrial Revolution


I have read that the worldwide standard of living was no higher in the early 1800s-just before the Industrial Revolution- than it had been in ancient Mesopotamia. Is this true?
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Old November 9th, 2017, 06:28 PM   #2

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Depends where you measure but it is commonly thought the era just before, during, and up to the middle of the industrial revolution standards of living were lower but it is a difficult thing to measure. Crowded urban areas with relatively poor hygiene and fewer nutrition options are one way to measure but far more people were literate and had some knowledge of the wider world with a chance to advance socially via education or some other forms of merit.
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Old November 9th, 2017, 11:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dude View Post
I have read that the worldwide standard of living was no higher in the early 1800s-just before the Industrial Revolution- than it had been in ancient Mesopotamia. Is this true?
In all times before second half of 19th century it was personally the best to be a tribal hunter but obviously not one in a extreme climate as Siberia or in a deep jungle.
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Old November 12th, 2017, 04:01 AM   #4

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not much changed in terms of living standards, healthcare, or housing, for centuries. in Europe, how royalty, peasant, or freeman would have lived from the end of Western Rome until the 17th/18th century was not much different.
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Old November 12th, 2017, 05:52 AM   #5

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The standard of living? The farmers and herdsmen had to double as hewers of wood and drawers of water.

So, for the most part, they were busy boys and girls.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 08:35 AM   #6

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Quote:
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I have read that the worldwide standard of living was no higher in the early 1800s-just before the Industrial Revolution- than it had been in ancient Mesopotamia. Is this true?
Kinda off.

That depends on the country and place but it is estimated that GDP per capita in China and India in 1800 were about 597 and 569 dollars of 1990, respectively (http://eh.net/eha/wp-content/uploads...Broadberry.pdf), while estimated GDP capita of Mesopotamia during the times of the Persian Empire at 722 dollars of 1990 (http://www.basvanleeuwen.net/bestand...1Julyl2010.pdf).

However, England's per capita income in 1800 AD was estimated about 2,080 dollars and much higher than it was in the middle ages as it was estimated at 755 dollars for the early 14th century so there was improvement in living standards in some parts of the world (Northwestern Europe mostly) from the middle ages to the beginning of the 19th century. Japan's cap income also increased a little from 552 dollars in 1280 AD to 703 dollars in 1800 AD.

England's GDP capita from middle ages to 19th century shows modest growth that accelerated with the industrial revolution:

Click the image to open in full size.

On the other hand the most developed part of the ancient world (see Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Ober (2015)), which was Greece during the Classical and Hellenistic periods, was probably even wealthier than England in 1800 AD, at least from the archaeological evidence on the standards of housing, average male height, grain wage levels and rates of urbanization. This region of the world experienced continuous improvement in living standards from 800 BC to 300 BC (as evidenced by increase in average house size: https://pseudoerasmus.com/2015/04/02.../morris_chart/) but after that declined and only came to experience economic growth again in the 19th century.

So the reality was that living standards were near minimum subsistence levels for most of the world from 3000 BC to 1800 AD but some parts of the world had explosions of growth, but they didn't last long. In Europe and North America per capita income started to grow fast around the early to mid 19th century, while in Latin America modern economic growth began in the late 19th century together with Japan. While in continental Asia modern economic growth began for real only in the 1950's as in 1950 India, China, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia had worse living standards than Ancient Mesopotamia.

Chinese per capita GDP for instance only started to growth beyond Malthusian levels in the 1970's but now it is already over 10 times higher than it was in the late 70's. While India began to grow beyond minimum subsistence only in the 1980's.

Last edited by Guaporense; November 20th, 2017 at 08:40 AM.
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