Book can be found here (this is an Amazon associate link which earns us commission to keep things going) summary and notes below:

In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper – and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “”flourishing”” – meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges.

# Prosperity on a national scale— mass flourishing— comes from broad involvement of people in the processes of innovation: the conception, development, and spread of new methods and products— indigenous innovation down to the grassroots.

# Output per head in Britain, according to present-day measurements, began a sustained climb in 1815 with the end of the Napoleonic Wars and never turned back. It grew spectacularly from the 1830s through the 1860s. Output per head in America is now viewed as having gone into a sustained climb around 1820.6 In France and Belgium, it began a bumpy ascent in the 1830s, with Germany and Prussia following in the 1850s.(p. 6)

# A study by McKinsey estimated that, from 10,000 business ideas, 1,000 firms are founded, 100 receive venture capital, 20 go on to raise capital in an initial public offering of shares, and 2 become market leaders. (p. 24)

# Mortality rates were steeply declining. “In London, the death rate, which had averaged 24.4 per 1000 in the 1860s was down to 18.5 by 1888. In Vienna, the death rate had been 41 and fell to 21. In European countries, the decrease ranged from one-third to one-quarter. In the whole United States it was between 17 and 18 in 1880 (p. 49)

# Then the 1869 Debtors Act abolished imprisonment for debt by allowing proprietorship’s, partnerships, and all people to file for bankruptcy. This almost surely was good for innovation. (p. 91)

#We see that the market-cap-to-output market-cap-to-output ratio in a country is a surprisingly good predictor of its labor productivity some years ahead. (p. 187)

Our creativity is arguably the highest form of expression we as humans can demonstrate. The excitement that comes to those who experience it can disable the needs for other things in life. Some go with less sleep eager to start another day, some care less of the negative things said of them which they’d previously take to heart. This excitement leads people to live to create rather than work to live. They can sense their fulfilling the meaning of life even if they don’t yet know it. The joy, intensity and imbalance is what develops the results striven forwhich lead to an innovation which touches many more millions than it otherwise would. Tiredness is inevitable but the exhilaration that comes with it drowns it out.

# “This common nature includes— at the highest level— a desire to express creativity, a relish for challenge, an enjoyment of problem solving, a delight in novelty,
and the restless need to explore and to tinker. (p. 297).

# The excitement that comes with this leads people to live in order to create, not to live in order to work.

# But talk of a “work-life balance,” as if work were not integral to life, casts doubt on whether these critics have understood very well the good life and the conditions on which it depends. A flourishing life in the world of work can come only from an emotional commitment that leads to deep involvement in the work— it cannot be had on the cheap. (p. 304)

# Why is balance necessarily good? Isn’t part of the skill or joy of life in the imbalance, in the craziness, in the bizarre or implausible intensity? … I am a single mother with three jobs. But I have come to see that there is a kind of exhilaration or happiness in the chaos itself.… [T] he human psyche is too complicated, too messy, too elusive, for problems to be solved by “balance,” by “healthy environments,” by the sheer stubborn physical presence. -author Katie Roiphe (p. 304).

# But overwhelmingly, the surveys found a marked decline. Surveys by Gallup and Ipsos-Reid asked, “Do you enjoy your work so much that you have a hard time putting it aside?” The percentage that said “yes” was 51 in 1955, 33 in 1988, and 23 in 2001. Roper asked, “Is work the most important thing and the purpose of leisure to recharge batteries … or is it leisure?” The percentage saying “work” was 48 in 1975, 46 in 1985, 37 in 1995, and 34 in 2000. Finally, Gallup asks whether you are “satisfied or dissatisfied with your job/ the work you do.” The percentage saying “satisfied” averaged 86 around 1966, was 77 in 1973, 70 in 1984, 73 in 1995, and 70 in 2001.  (p. 231)

# Finding policies to speed innovation will require nations to have a basic understanding of the roots of innovation over modern history. (p. 313).

# So America has joined Europe in having a parallel economy that draws its nourishment from the ideas of political elites, whatever their motives, rather than from
new commercial ideas. All this reduces the rewards of innovation— the demand for innovation. (pp. 314-315)

# Society’s course will be changed only by a change of ideas -Hayek

# Happy is he who knows the causes of things. – Virgil



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