‘A masterful sweep through the human odyssey … if you liked Sapiens, you’ll love this’ – Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins
Very rarely does a book come along that truly transforms the way we understand humanity. Books like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Thomas Piketty’s Capital. Oded Galor’s remarkable The Journey of Humanity looks set to join the ranks of these books.
Reading Galor’s book can feel like seeing the world with fresh eyes. His analysis of the origins of wealth and inequality is compelling and original. And it is, especially during these troubled times, refreshingly optimistic and persuasive. Speaking across the political divide the book sets out a convincing blueprint for how a better life can be had by everyone on the planet.
Galor, an economist at Brown University, upends many of our assumptions about human progress. For nearly all of human history humans lived a subsistence existence. But something astonishing happened 200 years ago and the living standards of nearly all humans have skyrocketed – albeit unevenly – since then.
We tend to think that it was the Industrial Revolution that led to vast improvements in those living standards. But Galor argues that the real game-changer was mass education and the abolition of child labour. Why? Because as technology advanced parents and employers alike saw that it paid to invest in the human capital of children. So families became smaller and wealthier and that wealth cascaded down the generations. Meanwhile, he says, differing levels of diversity, stemming from patterns of human migration tens of thousands of years ago, have been as powerful in determining the fate of nations as colonialism or geography.
In April 2020 Galor came to the Intelligence Squared stage in London to set out his radical new ideas about human progress. It was a hope-infused conversation in which Galor wove together insights from technology, demography, colonialism, geography and culture to explain how we got to where we are today and how all of humanity can thrive in the future. After hearing him speak, you might never see the world and our species in quite the same way again.
‘A completely brilliant and utterly original account of humanity’s transit from crude beginnings to a deeply divided planet. A vastly readable insight into why our world is as it is. A book for our epoch.’ – Jon Snow
‘I am in awe of Oded Galor’s attempts to explain inequality today as a consequence of such profound forces. A remarkable contribution to our understanding of this mammoth dilemma.’ – Jim O’Neill, author of The Growth Map and former Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs
‘A wonderfully clear-sighted perspective on progress, past and future, which is essential to tackling today’s big challenges – potentially catastrophic climate change and inequality.’ –Diane Coyle, author of Cogs and Monsters, Professor of Public Policy at Cambridge University