Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ed Glaeser on Samuelson


He writes: "The great appeal of Samuelsonian economics would be its use of mathematics to make sense of the human condition, usually — although not always — with more success than poor, mistaken Malthus."

Trouble is, Malthus wrote in 1800, and Malthus was entirely correct for the world up until 1800. In addition, parts of Africa are quite likely still Malthusian today... For example, 80% of Tanzanians work in agriculture. Between 2005 and 2009, the population of Tanzania increased from 37 to 43 million. With a fixed amount of land and quickly diminishing returns to labor working on land (especially when that labor is not well fed), Tanzania needs 3% per year agricultural productivity growth just to keep its income steady.

Poor, mistaken Ed Glaeser.

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