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September 1, 2011

Things are getting better: How it’s becoming easier to feed ourselves

Food expenditures as a percent of our disposable income have fallen from 24% in 1929 to 9.4% in 2010. This incredible drop in the burden of feeding ourselves has happened at a time when agriculture as a percent of GDP has fallen from nearly 9% (1947) to about 1%.

How is it possible that agriculture has become a smaller part of our economy, but it’s also now easier to feed ourselves?

Simple — agriculture has become vastly more productive! Farmers are achieving more and more, using fewer and fewer resources.

A similar story could probably be told about manufacturing. So don’t let statists use tricky numbers to argue that some sector of the American economy is in decline, such that statist intervention is needed. Instead, what looks like decline could easily be a sign that we’re getting richer! Doing more with less is the trend to look for. It’s everywhere. (Thanks to Mark Perry — Carpe Diem blog)

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