But only for a short time. The economy was a brutal zero-sum game and the death of your neighbour was to the benefit for those that did survive.
More deaths, higher incomes. Almost all that ordinary people used and consumed in the 17th century would have been very familiar to people living a thousand or even a couple of thousand years earlier.
More precisely, it is the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a country or region in a specific time period. Why did these not lead to sustained economic growth? Incomes remained almost unchanged over a period of several centuries when compared to the increase in incomes over the last 2 centuries.
The population declined from 8 million to 4. What people used as shelter, food, clothing, energy supply, their light source stayed very similar for a very long time.
In the Malthusian Economy productivity produces people not prosperity 4 Incomes were not flat — History saw several episodes of growth which were not sustained Throughout history there were several episodes in which certain economies achieved economic growth, but in contrast to the sustained growth since the Industrial Revolution these episodes were all short-lived.
If this analysis of the pre-growth economy is true than we would expect to see a positive correlation between productivity and the density of the population.
Ashraf and Galor 3 studied the Malthusian economy theoretically and empirically in a paper published in the American Economic Review. This article covers the basics of GDP data and highlights many of the pitfalls associated with intertemporal and spatial comparisons.
On the x-axis of both charts you find the same metric: The productivity of the agricultural land as measured by the quality of the soil and the climate.
While farmers before the plague had to use agricultural land that was less suited for farming, after the population decline they could farm on the most productive areas of the island.