The Malthusian trap was real until about 1870

Before 1500 technological progress was perhaps one-twentieth of a percent per year. After 1500 technological progress accelerated, but it still stuck to half a percent per year. However, with a population growth of a about 1% - 1.5% per year, that rate of technological progress is not enough to get out of the Malthusian trap (population growth outmatches the development of better ways of producing and distributing food). Only after about 1870, mostly through a synergy of industrial research labs, modern corporations and globalization, technology growth of about 2.1% freed us from the Malthusian trap. Source: Sean Carroll talks to Brad DeLong