In this video, which is also featured in Marginal Revolution University’s Everyday Economics course, we discuss the key factors behind the rise in innovation and

In this video, which is also featured in Marginal Revolution University’s Everyday Economics course, we discuss the key factors behind the rise in innovation and entrepreneurship over the past couple of centuries.

The economic historian Deirdre McCloskey coined the term “innovationism." While there have always been inventors and innovators, that number exploded after the eighteenth century, contributing to what has been described as the “Hockey Stick of Human Prosperity."

Why has innovation grown so rapidly? Economist Douglass North argued it had to do with institutions such as property rights, non-corrupt courts, and rule of law, which lay the foundation for innovation to take place. Others attribute the rise to factors such as education or access to reliable energy. McCloskey argues that what really kicked innovation into high gear is a change in attitude — ordinary people who once celebrated conquerors and kings began to celebrate merchants and inventors.

In the end, a better understanding of what drives innovation could help poor countries that still live on the handle of the “Hockey Stick" reach a much greater level of prosperity.

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Show 1 Answer (Answer provided by Ion Sterpan)
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I think "take-off" usually describes a country's shift from a period of stagnation (a per year growth close to zero, like an airplane running on the ground level) to a period of significant growth (like an airplane's take-off). In that sense, if we look at growth graphs produced by economic historians we see that the US had only one take-off, in 1800.
"Innovationism" might refer to a growth trend which includes technological tinkering, a set of many small innovations occuring in many parts of the economic system (as Joel Mokyr believes). It also includes a cultural aspect, a positive way of thinking about innovators (Deirdre McCloskey talks about how people started to recognize that the small entrepreneurs who were putting things together in a slightly different way, created value for others, and started allowing them to do more of it).

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