The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created

The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created, by William J. Bernstein, reviewed by .

The premise of The Birth of Plenty is that prosperity flows naturally once a society acquires four crucial factors: property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets, and modern transportation. The key question for the reader, is there a way to objectively verify Bernstein's premise?

Given the data of the last several decades,there seems to be a relationship between prosperity, psychological well being, democracy, and sociological measures of traditional values and personal empowerment. Wealth does not make us happier but it does strengthen democracy. Or put another way, is there a relationship between money, happiness, democracy, religion and culture?

A strong relationship exists between happiness and the perception an individual has control over their lives. This attitude in turn produces democracy. The benefits of democracy empower its citizens plus property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets, and modern transportation. High levels of societal education has an economical impact on a society because it allows the mastering of new productivity enhancing technologies. However, you must also have efficient economic incentives.

Over time as a society grows wealthier, it is not as concerned about survival. Society become more accepting and trusting of strangers—wealth extents what the author calls the radius of trust.

Well being or happiness for all societies is based on four factors: economic status, employment, health, and the state of the family. These factors in turn impact sleeping patterns, work loss, longer life spans, and higher brainwave activity in the left frontal area.

The author has done a credible job of defining the sources of economic growth (property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets, and modern transportation), how these factors played out in various nations and lastly his examination of sociological, political and military consequences of the modern world's explosive economic growth. I would recommend this well written book.