After numerous unremarkable centuries, why did humans start to live longer and reproduce themselves in increasing numbers? What were the proximate causes of this remarkable demographic acceleration? No longer destined everywhere to endure brutish and short life experiences, why did humans, first in northwestern Europe and eventually everywhere else, begin almost abruptly to enjoy enhanced well-being? Did their food intakes become more nutritious and their conflicts less devastating? Or were improvements in potable water sources key factors? Conceivably, too, the world simply grew richer, and its citizens could purchase better lives more easily. Deaton's The Great Escape provides many answers to such questions, and an excellent entry for historians and social scientists into the literature on well-being over time.

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