The Black Death
Robert S. Gottfried
A lot of people died from the Black Death, perhaps up to half of the population of Europe, but there were too many people anyway. Things got bad, but even during the worst of the plague years the wheels never came off entirely. Markets and courts stayed open, and the next century and a half would be known as a golden age of labour. Indeed some scholars think real wages weren’t as high again until the twentieth century. As our current global population goes sailing over seven billion it’s worth considering this history and asking what an optimum population today would be, especially given our far less labour-intensive economy.