The financial crisis and the Great Recession have led to calls for more economic history in economic education. This column argues for a much broader use of history in economics courses, as a device for teaching both the logic and the empirical relevance of economics. A proposed curriculum would include the rise of agriculture, urbanisation, war, the rule of law, and demography.
Coen Teulings, Friday, July 11, 2014 - 00:00
Elena Nikolova, Friday, August 17, 2012 - 00:00
Why do some states develop as democracies while others remain authoritarian? The question continues to puzzle social scientists. This column presents new data from 13 British American colonies from before the American Revolution. It shows that democratic institutions had a lot to do with the need to attract workers.
Diego Puga, Daniel Trefler, Sunday, August 5, 2012 - 00:00
International trade can have profound effects on domestic institutions. This paper examines this proposition in the context of medieval Venice circa 800-1350, showing that increases in long-distance trade enriched a large group of merchants who used their new-found muscle to push for constraints on the executive.
Davide Cantoni, Noam Yuchtman, Monday, May 21, 2012 - 00:00
We like to think that we have moved on from the Middle Ages, but do universities from that period have something to teach us about the role of government in education? This column thinks so.
Hans-Joachim Voth, Nico Voigtländer, Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 00:00
The persecution of Jews during WWII is one of the darkest and most puzzling chapters of recent history. This column asks how economics can help our understanding, particularly of how people’s attitudes to Jews have changed over time. It argues that ‘cultural economics’ shows that there is more to understanding how people behave than looking at their incentives.
Christophe Chamley, Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 00:00
Is it time for Eurobonds? This column argues that Eurobonds have always been the right solution. Every successful union throughout history has needed to create a proper financial instrument of sovereign debt – and the Eurozone is no different.
Steven CA Pincus, James A Robinson, Sunday, August 7, 2011 - 00:00
As financial markets around the world turn in fear of further government defaults, this column asks what lessons can be taken from a fiscal crisis that occurred over 200 years ago.
Quamrul Ashraf, Oded Galor, Monday, August 1, 2011 - 00:00
The reasons given for the vast divide in standard of living between different parts of the world are many, with some economic historians claiming the roots lie in the colonial period. This column goes back even further to the cradle of humankind in East Africa, suggesting that the genetic diversity of the tribes that dispersed to different parts of the globe determined their success many thousands of years later.
Marc Flandreau, Stefano Ugolini, Saturday, July 23, 2011 - 00:00
Has the global financial crisis been bad news for the world’s reserve currency? This column argues that it needn’t be, citing the rise of sterling as a global currency after the financial crisis of 1866.
Tony Wrigley, Friday, July 22, 2011 - 00:00
Before the industrial revolution, economists considered output to be fundamentally constrained by the limited supply of land. This column explores how the industrial revolution managed to break free from these shackles. It describes the important innovations that made the industrial revolution an energy revolution.
Peter H. Lindert, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Friday, July 15, 2011 - 00:00
When did America begin its gallop towards economic supremacy? Was it only after the American civil war? Did it start earlier during the antebellum period or even before 1776? This column digs up new evidence from the archives to find out.
Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano, Nathan Nunn, Saturday, July 2, 2011 - 00:00
Gender inequality is an old story. This column presents new evidence to suggest it may be as old as the horse and plough. It says there is a robust negative relationship between historical plough-use and unequal gender roles today. Traditional plough-use is positively correlated with attitudes reflecting gender inequality and negatively correlated with female labour force participation, female firm ownership, and female participation in politics.
Anne Murphy, Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 00:00
Working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday is the typical grind in Anglo-Saxon economies. In some professions, longer hours and low pay for junior workers is justified by the end reward of much better pay and a better work-life balance as they gain seniority. This column examines the workings of the Bank of England in 1783 to show the beginnings of this working culture.
Nicholas Crafts, Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 00:00
What started as a subprime crisis in the US soon spread to a global crisis resulting in what some have called the Great Recession. This column argues that economists spectacularly failed to take the prevention of financial crises seriously. But since then, economists have heeded the lessons from past crises and have helped avoid the worst.
Jeremiah Dittmar, Friday, February 11, 2011 - 00:00
Despite the revolutionary technological advance of the printing press in the 15th century, there is precious little economic evidence of its benefits. Using data on 200 European cities between 1450 and 1600, this column finds that economic growth was higher by as much as 60 percentage points in cities that adopted the technology.
Jan Luiten van Zanden, Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 00:00
China has been one of the world’s most dynamic economies in recent decades, but how did it fall so far behind? This column argues that the industrial revolution occurred in Europe rather than China because European entrepreneurs were eager to adopt machines to cut down on high labour costs. China didn’t “miss” the industrial revolution – it didn’t need it.
Adrian R. Bell, Chris Brooks, Tony Moore, Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - 00:00
It is widely believed that the current credit squeeze, leading to bank failures, is a modern phenomenon arising from the interplay of a historically unique set of circumstances that could not have been foreseen. But a team of academics – a finance professor and two medieval historians – at the University of Reading’s ICMA Centre has documented a medieval credit crunch that bears remarkable parallels with the current crisis.
Hans-Joachim Voth, Thursday, September 18, 2008 - 00:00
Around the globe, politically connected firms are more valuable. Nazi Germany was no different, though historians have lacked convincing evidence to prove that claim. This column shows that Nazi-linked firms reaped astoundingly large returns when Adolf Hitler came to power.
Hans-Joachim Voth, Friday, September 5, 2008 - 00:00
From Indonesia and Malaysia to Italy, politically connected firms are more valuable than their less fortunate competitors. Yet a key event in the history of the twentieth century has not been examined in terms of the value of political connections: the Nazi rise to power. In an interview recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Budapest in August 2007, Joachim Voth talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research with Thomas Ferguson on this question.
Maarten Bosker, Eltjo Buringh, Jan Luiten van Zanden, Saturday, June 28, 2008 - 00:00
Baghdad was a wonder of the world in the year 800 while London was an economic backwater. By 1800, London was the largest city in the world while Arab cities languished. Recent research attributes this ‘trading places’ to institutional differences: Arab cities were tied to the fate of the state while European cities were independent growth poles.