Starting 1800: Material divergence of countries starting 1800

At the beginning of the industrial revolution about 1800 the material situation in Europe, Asia, Africa and America were similar: about 70% or more of the population worked in agriculture on the fields and their standard of living differed more so by the fertility of the ground than their status (serfdom, etc.).

Then came a rapid divergent development in less than 200 years until a material factor of about 100 (in Germany today only 1% of population are farmers who feed the 100%).

This does not only refer to the material development of mankind in the last 200 years. In all the 9 areas changes occurred, caused by technical progress and simultaneous changes in our thinking – by the Enlightenment, increasing self-determination of people, as well as thoughts of democracy and withdrawal from religion, along with changes in values.

Spread of income and wealth

And simultaneously we find an incredible spread of income and wealth in western countries. Wether this spread was higher than in former times we don’t know exactly. In the 19th Century the concentration of income first increased, then sunk because of the two world wars. In the last 20 years we observe a partial new increase. In my opinion this is mostly due to globalization:

Imagine a music band playing in small villages. The members earn 100 € an evening. One band is more active and gets to play in a town. Now they earn 500 € each. The first fan clubs form. Out of the bands playing towns one arrives successful in the big city with better and original songs. They now earn more than 2.000 € per performance. And there is the state, the nation, the continent…the global TV. This way a superstar band is born. We can observe this in the entertainment business, in sports, with management salaries. No state, no wall can protect us against this development toward this spreading. – This process flow depicted does no longer exist in the age of marketing and internet. The model shows how a big market and globalization lead to the spread of income. 

New convergence and catch up

Today, because of globalization, we experience a race of the poorest countries to catch up. Within these countries a large part of the population still lives as the entire world did before 1800. We witness an increasing convergence of the countries – at the same time a spread inside of them. Some individuals caught the income opportunities and this accentuates current social distortions and gaps.

This development is happening world-wide, while in Europe governments takes social responsibility since about 100 years.