Friday, September 4, 2009

Cofffe and Sugar

Hans-Joachim Voth and Jonathan Hersh estimate that the introduction of coffee and sugar led to a 10% increase in welfare. They say that the stagnant wages before 1800 is a distortion caused by the exclusion of these goods from price indexes. Their method of estimation seems very interesting. Two phrases:
"Half of all spending was on beer and bread, and fully three-quarters of all calories came from these two sources alone."
"The reason why seemingly mundane goods like sugar, coffee and tea made a big difference to living standards is that life was not just “nasty, brutish, and short” at their time of introduction – it was also (in culinary terms) grey, boring, and bland."

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