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As late as 1918, 97 percent of the people living in the cities of Byelorussia were Byelorussians.Until this long transition to urban living took place among the Slavs, how could the wide range of skills typically found in cities be expected to exist in populations that lived overwhelmingly in the countryside?Only decades later did Poles become a majority of the population of Cracow.
In the nineteenth century, real per capita income in the Balkans was about one-third that in Britain.
That dwarfs intergroup disparities that many in the United States today regard as not merely strange but sinister.
By the late twentieth century, it was estimated that 17 percent of the people in the world produce four-fifths of the total output on the planet.
Such examples could be multiplied longer than you would have the patience to listen. In some cases, we can trace the reasons, but in other cases we cannot.
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Text is available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license; additional terms may apply.Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.Although the original title of my talk was "Conquests and Cultures," my recently published book with the same title is the last volume of a broader three-volume study of worldwide cultural differences and their economic and social impacts.If it is possible to be even more extreme, let us assume that we all behave like saints toward one another. These inputs are almost never equal--or even close to being equal.During the decade of the 1960s, for example, the Chinese minority in Malaysia earned more than a hundred times as many engineering degrees as the Malay majority.A more fundamental question, however, is: Why should anyone have ever expected equality in the first place?Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that not only every racial or ethnic group, but even every single individual in the entire world, has identical genetic potential. Real income consists of output and output depends on inputs.Not only did they not have such skills in Eastern Europe, they did not have them when they immigrated to the United States, to Australia, or to other countries, where they typically worked in low-level occupations and earned correspondingly low incomes.In the early years of the twentieth century, for example, immigrants to the United States from Eastern and Southern Europe earned just 15 percent of the income of immigrants from Norway, Holland, Sweden, and Britain. It is not uncommon to find some groups with median ages a decade younger than the median ages of other groups, and differences of two decades are not unknown.Singapore has a median per capita income that is literally hundreds of times greater than that in Burma.During the recent rioting in Indonesia, much of it directed against the ethnic Chinese in that country, some commentators found it strange that the Chinese minority, which is just 5 percent of the Indonesian population, owned an estimated four-fifths of the capital in the country. Such disparities have long been common in other countries in Southeast Asia, where Chinese immigrants typically entered poor and then prospered, creating whole industries in the process.