Joel Mokyr


Born
in Leiden, Netherlands
July 26, 1946

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Joel Mokyr is a Netherlands-born American-Israeli economic historian. He is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv.

Average rating: 3.94 · 582 ratings · 55 reviews · 27 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Lever of Riches: Techno...

4.03 avg rating — 197 ratings — published 1990 — 8 editions
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The Enlightened Economy: An...

3.98 avg rating — 92 ratings — published 2010 — 4 editions
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A Culture of Growth: The Or...

3.82 avg rating — 100 ratings — published 2016 — 4 editions
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The Gifts of Athena: Histor...

3.94 avg rating — 80 ratings — published 2002 — 8 editions
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The British Industrial Revo...

3.67 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 1993 — 8 editions
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of ...

4.33 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2003 — 2 editions
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The Economics of the Indust...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 1985 — 7 editions
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Why Ireland Starved: A Quan...

3.78 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 1983 — 8 editions
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The British Industrial Revo...

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Birth of Modern Europe: Cul...

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“All this is not to suggest that the growth in useful knowledge is leading us to a world of bliss. Athena's gifts were many: she gave King Cecrops the olive tree, but she also gave the city of Troy the wooden horse that led to its destruction. Technology makes people more powerful in exploiting nature, but how and for what purpose they do so remains indeterminate. If the twentieth century has shown us anything, it is that the capacity of humans for intolerance, stupidity, and selfishness has not declined as their technological power has increased.”
Joel Mokyr, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy

“A century ago, historians of technology felt that individual inventors were the main actors that brought about the Industrial Revolution. Such heroic interpretations were discarded in favor of views that emphasized deeper economic and social factors such as institutions, incentives, demand, and factor prices. It seems, however, that the crucial elements were neither brilliant individuals nor the impersonal forces governing the masses, but a small group of at most a few thousand people who formed a creative community based on the exchange of knowledge. Engineers, mechanics, chemists, physicians, and natural philosophers formed circles in which access to knowledge was the primary objective. Paired with the appreciation that such knowledge could be the base of ever-expanding prosperity, these elite networks were indispensable, even if individual members were not. Theories that link education and human capital to technological progress need to stress the importance of these small creative communities jointly with wider phenomena such as literacy rates and universal schooling.”
Joel Mokyr, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy

“Access to useful information also was determined by literacy and the availability of reading material. It is now widely agreed at least for Britain that increases in literacy were relatively modest during the Industrial Revolution. Yet literacy is not particularly useful unless people actually read, and for the purposes of technological change it also matters how much and what people read.”
Joel Mokyr, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy

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