Category Archives: Economic History

Markets & Famine: Amartya Sen is not the last word !

Whether markets help cause or exacerbate famines is one of the great questions of political economy. Cormac Ó Gráda’s recent book Eating People is Wrong, and Other Essays on Famine, its Past, and its Future, along with his earlier volume, Famine: A Short … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Famines | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Anachronism & Relevance in History: a comment on Steve Pincus

Anachronism and relevance are in tension. Historians (often) rail against the former and (often) pine for the latter. They can easily manage a bit of relevance by intervening in today’s political and economic debates and offering ‘lessons’ from the past — but at high risk of … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Chile’s First Globalisation: Inequality, Frontier Expansion, and Immigration

This is a translation-reblog of the post by historian Javier Rodríguez Weber, “Globalisation and Inequality, for a ‘sophisticated’ version of the neoclassical intepretation” (original: “Globalización y Desigualdad. Por una versión ‘sofisticada’ de la interpretación neoclásica”). It shows how Chile’s income … Continue reading

Posted in Chile, Economic History, Inequality | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Ian Morris’s calculations about the ancient Greek economy

Addenda to the previous blogpost “Economic growth in ancient Greece“. I argue that certain estimates made by Ian Morris under-compute the implied growth rates in the “per capita income” of the ancient Greeks. With a proper computation Morris’s estimates simply become … Continue reading

Posted in ancient economic history, Ancient Greece, Economic History | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Economic Growth in Ancient Greece

Was there “intensive growth” in Classical Greece and was there something special about its causes ? Was it due to “inclusive institutions” ? This post examines some claims of the “New Ancient History”.

Posted in ancient economic history, Ancient Greece, Economic History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Economic History Link Dump 15-01-2015

A haphazard mass, a chaotic carnival, a Bikini Atoll, of links relating to economic history, political economy, and allied matters. I also have brief comments on some of the links.

Posted in Economic History, Links | 11 Comments

State Capacity & the Sino-Japanese Divergence

Why China did not industrialise before Western Europe may be a tantalising and irresistible subject, but frankly it’s a parlour game. What remains underexplored, however, is the more tractable issue of why Japan managed, but China failed, to initiate an early transition to modern growth … Continue reading

Posted in China, East Asia, Economic History, Japan | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Jo Guldi’s Curiouser & Curiouser Footnotes

In The History Manifesto, historians Jo Guldi, the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History at Brown, and David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Harvard, repeatedly misunderstand or misrepresent the research they disparagingly cite in … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, History Manifesto, Industrial Revolution, Inequality | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

La longue purée

In The History Manifesto, two historians, Jo Guldi of Brown and David Armitage of Harvard, urge their peers to turn away from microhistory and go back to doing Big History in the longue durée tradition of Fernand Braudel. The book also doubles as a rant against the … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Environmental Economics, History, History Manifesto, Social Science | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

A horse ! A horse ! My serfdom for a horse !

Part 2, England, of my critique of Nick Szabo’s view of industrialisation. This is continued from Part 1, “Chinese workers were cheaper than English horses“.

Posted in Economic History, great divergence, Industrial Revolution | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Ye Olde Inæqualitee Shoppe

A quick note : Income inequality in pre-industrial societies was, in general, lower than in modern industrial societies, but traditional agrarian economies tended to be closer to their “maximum feasible inequality” than modern ones.

Posted in Branko Milanovic, Economic History, Income distribution, Inequality | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Very Brief History of Foreign Investment

Summary : (Part 2 of 4) As the prelude to a critique of commenter Matt’s view of American foreign policy presented in Part 1, I sketch a brief history of foreign investment as context. Fear not the drear of evil, for the post is mostly pictures … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Economic History, Foreign Investment, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Little Divergence

Summary : A “great divergence” between the economies of Western Europe and East Asia had unambiguously occurred by 1800. However, there’s a growing body of opinion that this was preceded by a “little divergence” (or “lesser divergence”?) which might have started … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Angus Maddison

This blogpost examines the dubious assumptions behind Angus Maddison’s pre-1200 income data.

Posted in Economic History | Tagged | 1 Comment

Height in the Dark Ages

Everything went to hell after the fall of the Roman empire — at least in the western part. Literacy collapsed; roads were no longer maintained; interregional trade pretty much died out; barbarian marauders from the north preyed on the weak … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Sociometrics | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Time on the Cross Summary

The 10-point summary of Time on the Cross: the Economics of American Slavery by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman, from pp 4-6 of the book itself. Included as a reference for the blogpost “Baptism by Blood Cotton“.

Posted in Economic History | Tagged | 2 Comments