Uncovering the Mystery Behind Innovation

Laurence Articles

Ever wonder why Americans enjoy a substantially higher standard of living than any other large country? According to Matt Ridley, it is because the liberal democracy we have nurtured over the last 250 years is the essential catalyst to foster innovation.

Our high standard of living is the result of economic growth. The economy grows not just through putting more people, resources, and capital to work. That’s the easy part and it explains a little, but not the 30-to-1 (or 100-to-1, depending on whose data you believe) increase in well-being since the Industrial Revolution. That kind of hypergrowth comes from innovation. Innovation is what enables you to do more with less: more production using fewer materials, more results achieved in less time, more satisfaction with less effort.

In How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley, the author of The Red Queen, The Rational Optimist, and many other works on biology, evolution, the economy, and progress, turns his attention to the anatomy of technological advancement. (Ridley, properly the Fifth Viscount Ridley, is a hereditary peer of the House of Lords and was trained as a biologist.)

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