Economic history

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 14 February 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces the second eBook in a new three-part series which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics. This volume focuses on attempts by economists to shed light on the effects of European colonisers on development and culture across Africa and Asia.

Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 10 February 2017

Since the Industrial Revolution, modern prosperity has spread from its European birthplace to many corners of the world. Yet the diffusion of technologies, institutions and behaviours associated with this process of economic modernisation has been unequal both over space and time. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, argues that the divergent historical paths followed by distinct populations led to barriers between them. Although these barriers are deeply rooted, their effect is not permanent and immutable.

Joel Mokyr, 02 February 2017

Much has been written on why the process of modern economic growth, or ‘the Great Enrichment’, started in western Europe in the 18th century. This column, which first appeared as a chapter in a recent Vox eBook, argues that political fragmentation, coupled with an intellectual and cultural unity, a more or less integrated market for ideas, allowed Europe to benefit from the increasing return associated with intellectual activity.

Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, Tom Nicholas, 02 February 2017

A pressing issue facing policymakers around the globe today is how to generate long-term economic growth through technological innovation. Using a new dataset that matches 19th and 20th century patent records with census data, this column attempts to shed some light on the ‘golden age’ of US innovation. Population density and financial development are found to be important determinants of state innovativeness, while education appears to be the critical input at the individual level. These findings have important implications for innovation policy today.

James Fenske, Namrata Kala, 01 February 2017

A global literature has developed that illuminates the reciprocal and dynamic relationship between humans and their environment in other regions across the world This column, which first appeared as a chapter in a recent Vox eBook, surveys on two topics in the literature: the impact of geographic endowments and the impact of environmental shocks on historical and long-run development. 

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