Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Historical Research

This is interesting:

'Using historical data on prices and quantities for these "new luxuries", we estimate their value to consumers. It turns out to have been very large. By 1850, English consumers were better off by 15-20% as a result of new goods. The Age of Discoveries boosted peoples' well-being – not by changing the quantities or prices of goods that Europeans already knew in 1500, but by expanding the range of goods that consumers could buy.
Comparing these gains to more recent new goods, we find that – from a welfare perspective – sugar, tea, and coffee mattered more back then than did the recent introduction of the internet, computers, satellite television, and mobile phones combined.'

It is easy to take things for granted.  If you have no sense of history, you won't know how good we have things today.

Now move forward and imagine a world where computers are as cheap and plentiful as sugar.  What kind of luxuries will new technology bring?

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