When and how did the concept of economic growth emerge?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,491
Florania
#11
Technically or pragmatically?

It's like to wonder how we were able to breath before of the discovery of oxygen ...

Technically the conception of economic growth is a measurement and it's not that old [Solow won a Nobel Prize with a math model about it in 1959], historically we can say that with the middle class and the conception of "surplus" our countries begun to think to the economical growth. The passage from physical richness [lands, persons, animals, precious metals ...] to just economical richness [money, business, trade ...] saw the idea of economical growth gain its first importance. I'd say early XVIII century, if we want to indicate a historical period.

On the other side, pragmatically, economic growth is an aspect of an expansive society and human societies have always been expansive. So that until the appearance of forms of barters, expansive primitive micro societies [tribes] saw something which we can describe as "economic growth". Even before of recording what was happening with some kind of writing system.
Let's assume the relatively stagnant age of subsistence agriculture:
While regime changes were relatively common, we could assume the following for literate subsistence agrarian communities before industrial agriculture:
A small literate administrative elite was in charge of most affairs.
Productivity per hectare remained relatively constant.
Most commoners still subjected to famines and pestilences, even the royals and nobles were not exempt.
Most commoners barely fed themselves with the best efforts.
Technologies remained relatively stagnant.
Then, industrial agriculture, printing presses, and other machines mushroomed.
If Technics and Civilization is correct, the tipping point between industrial civilization and iron age civilization should begin during somewhere during the 1000 CE.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,576
#12
Let's assume the relatively stagnant age of subsistence agriculture:
While regime changes were relatively common, we could assume the following for literate subsistence agrarian communities before industrial agriculture:
A small literate administrative elite was in charge of most affairs.
Productivity per hectare remained relatively constant.
Most commoners still subjected to famines and pestilences, even the royals and nobles were not exempt.
Most commoners barely fed themselves with the best efforts.
Technologies remained relatively stagnant.
Then, industrial agriculture, printing presses, and other machines mushroomed.
If Technics and Civilization is correct, the tipping point between industrial civilization and iron age civilization should begin during somewhere during the 1000 CE.
Sounds like that would end up somewhere near mercantilist thinking, or traditional Confusian social ideals:

The basis of all wealth is agriculture. The basis to getting more of it is more people to till the land. So you want to maximise farmers, preferably make them grow in numbers. Other economic activity, most of all trade, is at best a rather superflous detail, at worst regarded as directly nocive for society.

The things that upset the calculation are the big cities, the trading hubs – the likes of Venice and Amsterdam. Given the demographic situation, the excess mortality on cities was staggering. They literally would never have been able to maintain themselves without pulling in masses of new human beings. But they managed to do so based on the possibility of getting ahead and getting rich (relatively), if one survived long enough.

Already Medieval monarchs realized that having a big trading city, or more, within your realm, was a direct money-spinner.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,491
Florania
#13
Sounds like that would end up somewhere near mercantilist thinking, or traditional Confusian social ideals:

The basis of all wealth is agriculture. The basis to getting more of it is more people to till the land. So you want to maximise farmers, preferably make them grow in numbers. Other economic activity, most of all trade, is at best a rather superflous detail, at worst regarded as directly nocive for society.

The things that upset the calculation are the big cities, the trading hubs – the likes of Venice and Amsterdam. Given the demographic situation, the excess mortality on cities was staggering. They literally would never have been able to maintain themselves without pulling in masses of new human beings. But they managed to do so based on the possibility of getting ahead and getting rich (relatively), if one survived long enough.

Already Medieval monarchs realized that having a big trading city, or more, within your realm, was a direct money-spinner.
Today, industrial agriculture provides much of the foods we eat, and the question is: when did industrial agriculture emerged?
Industrial agriculture (aka the Green Revolution) freed many labourers from agriculture and rendered industrialization possible;
previously, even full devotion to subsistence farming might not feed the population.
When did today's clean, orderly cities emerge?
 

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