Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty - Chapters 4-5, Small Differences and Critical Junctures: The Weight of History, Summary & Analysis

Daron Acemoğlu
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Chapter 4 begins by recounting that the Black Death killed around half of Europe's population in the latter half of the 14th century. This decimated the working class, much of which had previously been bound under feudalism. The pre-plague economy had been highly extractive, with feudal lords redistributing wealth from peasants and serfs to themselves. But after the plague, the ratio of workers to landlords significantly increased, such that workers had much greater bargaining power. Now they had the opportunity to voluntarily leave serfdom and seek better patrons and even become landowners themselves. This process proceeded apace in Western Europe and England, where wages for workers increasing and the feudal order was never fully reestablished. However, in Eastern Europe, which had a relatively more extractive economy...

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This section contains 902 words
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Buy the Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty Study Guide
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