Economic History Papers

This is a companion to my Economic History Books page. This page collects articles, surveys, and blogs which give a good overview of academic research on general-interest topics in global economic history and comparative historical development. (Plus some random things which strike my fancy.)

Although I’ve listed some classics, this page isn’t about the oldies. Research moves on and I list stuff which I consider empirically current.

As usual, suggestions are welcome. Alerts to broken or inaccessible links are also welcome. (Many links are ungated. There will be alternatives to gated links later.)

Note: This is a work in progress, it’s still very disorganised, and things are still being added or deleted.


The British Industrial Revolution

The current major views

  • Mokyr (2005), “The intellectual origins of modern economic growth”
  • Allen (2011), “Why the industrial revolution was British: commerce, induced invention, and the scientific revolution”; also see his VoxEU column
  • Allen (2015), “The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement” [ungated]
  • Clark (2014) “The Industrial Revolution: A Cliometric Perspective” (from Handbook of Economic Growth, Volume 2)
  • Clark (2001), “The Secret History of the Industrial Revolution”
  • Kelly, Mokyr, & Ó Gráda (2014), “Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution” {the human capital perspective}
  • Crafts (2010), “Explaining the first Industrial Revolution: Two Views”
  • { synoptic view of the IR with more space for mercantilism & imperialism. P. O’Brien? P. Vries? }


  • Mokyr (2005), “Long-Term Economic Growth and the History of Technology” (from Handbook of Economic Growth)
  • Crafts & Harley (1992), “Output growth and the British Industrial Revolution: A Restatement of the Crafts-Harley view”
  • Temin (1997) “Two views of the British Industrial Revolution”
  • Wrigley (2013), “Energy and the English Industrial Revolution”
  • O’Brien (2010), “Ten Years of Debate on the Origins of the Great Divergence”
  • O’Brien (2006), “Provincializing the First Industrial Revolution”

Older surveys still worth reading

  • Mokyr (1998), “The Editor’s Introduction: The New Economic History and the Industrial Revolution” (also see Kevin Bryan’s post on this)
  • Inikori (2000) “The English Economy in the Longue Durée, 1086–1850”
  • Inikori (2000) “A Historiography of the First Industrial Revolution”
  • McCloskey (1994), “The Industrial Revolution 1780-1860: A Survey”
  • McCloskey (1981), “The Industrial Revolution 1780-1860: A Survey”


  • Allen (2009), “Engels’ pause: Technical change, capital accumulation, and inequality in the British industrial revolution” {I might also list Clark’s opposing view, but I think Allen really clinches the case with this paper}
  • Campbell (2010), “Nature as historical protagonist: environment and society in pre-industrial England”
  • Allen (2008) “The Nitrogen Hypothesis and the English Agricultural Revolution: A Biological Analysis”
  • Humphries (2012), “Childhood and child labour in the British industrial revolution”
  • Allen (2008), review of Clark’s A Farewell to Alms { imo the best parts are the critique of Clark’s neo-Malthusianism and view of institutions }
  • Clark & Cummins (2009), “Urbanization, Mortality, and Fertility in Malthusian England”
  • Mokyr (1977), “Demand vs. Supply in the Industrial Revolution”
  • Clark & Hamilton (2006), “Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England”
  • Galofre-Vila et al. (2017), “Heights across England in the last 2000 years”
  • Clark, O’Rourke, & Taylor (2014), “The growing dependence of Britain on trade during the Industrial Revolution”
  • Bryan (2013), “Tunzelmann & the Nature of Social Savings from Steam”

Open Fields & Enclosures

  • Allen (2001), “Community and Market in England: Open Fields and Enclosures Revisited”
  • Clark (1998), “Commons Sense: Common Property Rights, Efficiency, and Institutional Change”
  • McCloskey (1995), “Allen’s Enclosure and the Yeoman: the View from Tory Fundamentalism”


Europe in the longue durée…

  • Mokyr & Voth (2010), “Understanding growth in Europe, 1700–1870: theory and evidence”
  • Broadberry & Fouquet (2015), “Seven Centuries of European Economic Growth and Decline”. Also see Nuno Palma’s blog on this.
  • Broadberry (2013), “Accounting for the great divergence” (shorter version)
  • Broadberry & Gupta (2006), “The early modern great divergence: wages, prices and economic development in Europe and Asia, 1500–1801”
  • Allen (2000), “Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300-1800”
  • Voigtländer & Voth (2003), “Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe’s Early Rise to Riches”
  • Koyama (2016), “The long transition from a natural state to a liberal economic order”
  • Johnson & Koyama (2013), “Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state”
  • Koepke & Baten (2005), “The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia”
  • Bosker, Buringh, & van Zanden (2013), “From Baghdad to London: Unravelling Urban Development in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, 800-1800”
  • Becker, Pfaff & Rubin (2016), “Causes and Consequences of the Protestant Reformation”
  • Iyigun (2008), “Luther & Suleyman”
  • Ogilvie (2014), “The Economics of Guilds”
  • Bateman (2011), “The evolution of markets in early modern Europe, 1350–1800: a study of wheat prices”
  • Kelly & Ó Gráda (2014), “The Waning of the Little Ice Age: Climate Change in Early Modern Europe”
  • Oster (2004), “Witchcraft, Weather and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe”
  • Hajnal (1965), “European Marriage Patterns in Perspective”
  • Dennison & Ogilvie (2014), “Does the European Marriage Pattern Explain Economic Growth?”
  • O’Brien (2000), “Mercantilism and Imperialism in the Rise and Decline of the Dutch and British Economies 1585-1815”
  • Irwin (1992), “Strategic Trade Policy and Mercantilist Trade Rivalries”
  • Hoffman (2012), “Why Was It Europeans Who Conquered the World?”
  • Domar (1970), “The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis”
  • Sharp & Weisdorf (2011), “French revolution or industrial revolution? A note on the contrasting experiences of England and France up to 1800”
  • De Vries (2000), “Dutch Economic Growth in Comparative Historical Perspective, 1500-2000”
  • Malanima (2011), “The Long Decline of a Leading Economy: GDP in Central and Northern Italy, 1300-1913”
  • Alvarez-Nogal & Prados de la Escosura (2013), “The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850)”
  • Irigoin & Grafe (2008), “Bargaining for Absolutism: A Spanish Path to Nation-State and Empire Building”
  • {hoffman view prerevolutionary french agro}


Global economic history topics

  • Bryan (2015), “On the Economics of the Neolithic Revolution”
  • Pomeranz (2011), “How Big Should Historians Think? A Review Essay on Why the West Rules—For Now by Ian Morris”
  • Findlay & Lundahl (2002), “The First Globalization Episode: The Creation of the Mongol Empire, or the Economics of Chingghis Khan” (chapter in this book)
  • O’Rourke & Willimson (2002), “When did globalisation begin?”
  • Goldstone (2002), “Efflorescences and Economic Growth in World History: Rethinking the ‘Rise of the West’ and the Industrial Revolution”
  • Mokyr (1994), “Cardwell’s Law and the political economy of technological progress”
  • Findlay & Lundahl (2006), “Population, Precious Metals, and Prices from the Black Death to the Price Revolution” (chapter in this book)
  • Harvey et al. (2010), “The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: Four Centuries of Evidence”
  • de Vries (2011), “Industrious Peasants in East and West: Markets, Technology, and Family Structure in Japanese and Western European Agriculture”
  • Koyama (2012), “The transformation of labor supply in the pre-industrial world”
  • Lee (2003), “The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change”
  • Steckel (2008), “Biological Measures of the Standard of Living”
  • Turchin (2009), “Long-Term Population Cycles in Human Societies”
  • Ó Gráda (2007), “Making Famine History”
  • Lindert, Milanovic & Williamson (2010), “Pre-Industrial Income Inequality”
  • Milanovic (2016), “Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the
  • Milanovic (2010), “A short history of global inequality: The past two centuries”
  • Milanovic (2013), “Global Income Inequality in Numbers: in History and Now”
  • role of colonies and high population density”
  • Turchin et al. (2006), “East-West Orientation of Historical Empires and Modern States”
  • Turchin (2009), “A theory for formation of large empires”
  • Marquez (2012), “The Great Norm Shift and the Triumph of Universal Suffrage: A Very Short Quantitative History of Political Regimes, Part 1.825”


The Long 19th century

  • Daudin, Morys, & O’Rourke (2008), “Globalization, 1870-1914” (a chapter from CEHME v2)
  • Allen (2012), “Technology and the great divergence: Global economic development since 1820”
  • Bénétrix, O’Rourke, & Williamson (2015), “The Spread of Manufacturing to the Poor Periphery 1870–2007”
  • Clark (1987), “Why Isn’t the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills”
  • Bairoch (1975), “International Industrialization Levels from 1750 to 1980”
  • Sugihara (2007), “Labour-intensive industrialisation in Global History”
  • Hadass & Williamson (2003), “Terms-of-Trade Shocks and Economic Performance, 1870–1940: Prebisch and Singer Revisited”
  • Williamson (2006), “Globalization, de­industrialization and underdevelopment in the  third world before the modern era”
  • Williamson (2008), “Globalization and the Great Divergence: terms of trade booms, volatility and the poor periphery, 1782-1913”
  • Chaudhary et al. (2012), “Big BRICs, weak foundations: The beginning of public elementary education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China” (shorter version)
  • Saxonhouse & Wright (2010), “National Leadership and Competing Technological Paradigms: The Globalization of Cotton Spinning, 1878–1933”
  • Chandler (1984), “The Emergence of Managerial Capitalism”
  • O’Rourke (2006), “The worldwide economic impact of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793–1815”

Europe in the long 19th century

  • Harley (2013), “British and European industrialisation”
  • O’Rourke (2000), “British trade policy in the 19th century: a review article”
  • Nye (1991), “The Myth of Free-Trade Britain and Fortress France: Tariffs and Trade in the Nineteenth Century”
  • Leunig (2001), “New Answers to Old Questions: Explaining the Slow Adoption of Ring Spinning in Lancashire, 1880-1913” {contains the best summary of the long-running debate on this topic}
  • Tilly (2001), “German economic history and Cliometrics: A selective survey of recent tendencies”
  • Broadberry (1998), “How Did the United States and Germany Overtake Britain? A Sectoral Analysis of Comparative Productivity Levels, 1870-1990”
  • Lee (1988), “Economic Development and the State in Nineteenth-Century Germany”
  • Becker, Hornung & Woessmann (2010), “Being the educational world leader helped Prussia catch up in the Industrial Revolution”
  • Crouzet (2003), “The Historiography of French Economic Growth in the Nineteenth Century”
  • Grantham (1997), “The French cliometric revolution: A survey of cliometric contributions to French economic history”.
  • Nye (2000), “The Importance of Being Late: French Economic History, Cliometrics, and the New Institutional Economics”
  • Becuwe, Blancheton, & Meissner (2015), “Stages of Diversification: France, 1836-1938”
  • Prados de la Escosura (2016), “Spain’s Historical National Accounts: Expenditure and Output, 1850-2015” (also see his columns at VoxEU and Nada es gratis)
  • Rosés (2003), “Why Isn’t the Whole of Spain Industrialized? New Economic Geography and Early Industrialization, 1797-1910”
  • Beltrán Tapia (2016), “Common Lands & Economic Development in Spain”
  • Felice (2011), “Regional value added in Italy, 1891–2001, and the foundation of a long-term picture”
  • Missiaia (2009), “Regional market integration in Italy during the unification (1832-1882)”
  • Hatton (2014), “How have Europeans grown so tall?”

The impact of colonialism on the colonial powers

  • { more coming! }
  • O’Brien (1982), “European Economic Development: The Contribution of the Periphery”
  • Eltis & Engerman (2000), “The Importance of Slavery and the Slave Trade to Industrializing Britain”
  • O’Rourke, Prados de la Escosura, & Daudin (2008), “Trade and Empire, 1700-1870” (a chapter from CEHME v1)
  • {–Morgan on Atlantic slavery—}


US economic history

  • Allen (2014) “American Exceptionalism as a Problem in Global History”
  • Wright (1990), “The origins of American industrial success, 1879–1940”
  • Irwin (2003), “Explaining America’s Surge in Manufactured Exports, 1880-1913”
  • Meyer, “The Roots of American Industrialization, 1790-1860” ( article)
  • Lamoreaux (2003), “Rethinking the Transition to Capitalism in the Early American Northeast”
  • Temin (1991), “Free Land and Federalism: A Synoptic View of American Economic History”
  • Komlos (2012), “A Three-Decade History of the Antebellum Puzzle: Explaining the Shrinking of the U.S. Population at the Onset of Modern Economic Growth”
  • Olmstead & Rhode (1993), “Induced Innovation in American Agiculture: A Reconsideration”
  • Goldin & Lewis (1975), “The Economic Cost of the American Civil War: Estimates and Implications”
  • Ransom, The Economics of the Civil War ( article)
  • Naidu (2016), “What would the United States have looked like had microbes and strength of arms not been on the Plymouth Protestants’ side?”
  • Abramitsky & Boustan (2017), “Immigration in American Economic History”
  • DeLong (1996), “America’s Peacetime Inflation: The 1970s “
  • Field (2003), “The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century” [i.e., the 1930s….]
  • Lindert & Williamson (2016), “Unequal gains: American growth and inequality since 1700”
  • Lamoreaux, “Beyond the Old and the New: Economic History in the United States”, a chapter published in Boldizzoni & Hudson.
  • Rosenthal (2016), “Seeking a Quantitative Middle Ground: Reflections on Methods and Opportunities in Economic History”
  • Gordon (2014), “The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth: Restatement, Rebuttal, and Reflections”
  • Bleakley & Ferrie (2016), “Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations”
  • Wright (1981), “Cheap Labor and Southern Textiles, 1880-1930”
  • Davis’s review of Fogel’s Railroads & American Economic Growth; and Bleakley’s article about his own revision of Fogel.
  • Rosenbloom & Sundstrom (2009), “Labor market regimes in US history”
  • Devine (1983), “From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification”
  • Hilt (2016), “Economic History, Historical Analysis, and the ‘New History of Capitalism'”
  • Olmstead & Rhode {working paper}, “Cotton, Slavery, and the New History of Capitalism”
  • Journal of Economic History roundtable on Baptist [ungated]
  • Hansen, “Counterfactuals and the Study of History
  • Hansen, “Even More on Capitalism and Slavery
  • Hansen, “Capitalism and Slavery Debate is not about differences in methodology
  • DeLong (2005), “Who benefited from North American slavery?”
  • antebellum textile debates }
  • { 19th century labour scarcity debate ??? }
  • { postbellum southern industrialisation }
  • { TOC slavery debate }
  • { emancipation }


Institutions: Dominant Views

  • North, Wallis, & Weingast (2006), “A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History”
  • Engerman & Sokoloff (2000), “Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World”
  • Acemoglu, Johnson & Robinson (2005), “Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth”

Institutions: Sceptical Views

  • Ogilvie & Carus (2014), “Institutions & Economic Growth in Historical Perspective”
  • Ogilvie (2007), “‘Whatever Is, Is Right’? Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe”
  • Iyigun (2012), “Are We There Yet? Time for Checks and Balances on New Institutionalism”
  • Irigoin & Grafe (2012), “Bounded Leviathan: or why North and Weingast are only right on the right half”
  • Vollrath (2014) “The Skeptics’ Guide to Institutions” (4 parts)
  • Glaeser et al. (2004), “Do Institutions Cause Growth?”
  • Clark (2007), review of Avner Greif’s Institutions & the Path to the Modern Economy

Effective states

  • Johnson & Koyama (2016), “States and economic growth: Capacity and constraints”
  • Dincecco (2015), “The Rise of Effective States in Europe”
  • Bardhan (2016), “State and Development: The Need for a Reappraisal of the Current Literature”

Informal Institutions

  • Alesina & Giuliano (2015), “Culture & Institutions”
  • Greif (1994), “Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies”
  • Greif (2000), “The fundamental problem of exchange: A research agenda in Historical Institutional Analysis”
  • Greif (2006a), “Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations”
  • Greif (2006b), “The Birth of Impersonal Exchange: The Community Responsibility System and Impartial Justice”
  • Greif (2008), “Coercion and Exchange: How did Markets Evolve?”
  • Schultz (2016), “The Churches’ Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy”
  • Greif & Mokyr (2017), “Cognitive rules, institutions, and economic growth”


Culture, Norms & Endogenous Preferences

  • Nunn (2012), “Culture and the Historical Process”
  • Guiso, Sapienza, & Zingales (2006), “Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?”
  • Alesina & Giuliano (2014), “Family Ties” (from Handbook of Economic Growth)
  • Alesina, Giuliano, & Nunn (2013), “On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough”
  • Iyer (2016), “The New Economics of Religion”
  • Aldashev & Platteau (2014), “Religion, Culture, and Development”
  • Bowles & Polanía-Reyes (2012), “Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?”
  • Fehr & Fischbacher (2002), “Why Social Preferences Matter: The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation, & Incentives”
  • Jakiela (2014), “Using Economic Experiments to Measure Informal Institutions” (chapter from Galiani & Sened)
  • Oosterbeek et al. (2004), “Cultural Differences in Ultimatum Game Experiments: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis”
  • Johnson & Mislin (2011), “Trust Games: A Meta-Analysis”
  • Bigoni et al. (2016), “Amoral Familism, Social Capital, or Trust? The Behavioural Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide”
  • Alesina & Fuchs (2007), “Good-Bye Lenin (or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People’s Preferences”

Cultural Evolution

  • Henrich (2015), “Culture & Social Behavior”
  • Boyd, Richerson, & Henrich (2002), “Cultural Evolution of Human Cooperation”
  • Henrich (2004), “Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation”
  • Henrich et al. (2001) “In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies”
  • Richerson & Henrich (2012), “Tribal Social Instincts and the Cultural Evolution of Institutions to Solve Collective Action Problems”
  • Newson & Richerson (2009), “Why Do People Become Modern? A Darwinian Explanation”
  • Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan (2010), “The weirdest people in the world?”
  • Henrich, Boyd, & Richerson (2012), “The puzzle of monogamous marriage”


The impact of colonialism on colonies

  • Pepinsky (2016), “The New Political Economy of Colonialism”
  • Acemoglu & Robinson (2017), “The economic impact of colonialism”
  • Heldring & Robinson (2012), “Colonialism and Economic Development in Africa” (also see their shorter version)
  • Michalopoulos & Papaioannou (2017), 2nd volume of the PDF e-booklet “The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History”, mostly covers the impact of colonialism in Africa and Asia.

More unusual views:

  • Frankema (2009), “The colonial roots of land inequality: geography, factor endowments, or institutions?”
  • Easterly & Levine (2016), “The European origins of economic development”; also see their VoxEU column
  • Fails & Krieckhaus (2010), “Colonialism, Property Rights and the Modern World Income Distribution”
  • Booth & Deng {2016}, “Japanese colonialism in comparative perspective”
  • Frankema (2010), “Raising revenue in the British empire, 1870–1940: how ‘extractive’ were colonial taxes?”

Two famous papers which appear on most syllabi on the impact of colonialism are:

  • Nunn (2008), “The Long-Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades”; also see Nunn’s recent VoxEU column surveying the now-sizeable literature built on top of his 2008 paper
  • Banerjee & Iyer (2005), “History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India”

And dissenting comment papers which don’t get as much attention:

  • Bottero & Wallace (working paper), “Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa’s Slave Trades?”
  • Iversen, Palmer-Jones & Sen (2013), “On the Colonial Origins of Agricultural Development in India: A Reexamination of Banerjee and Iyer, ‘History, Institutions and Economic Performance'”


Trade & Development

  • Harrison & Rodríguez-Clare (2010), “Trade, Foreign Investment, and Industrial Policy for Developing Countries” {from Handbook of Development Economics, Vol 5 }
  • Meissner (2014), “Growth from Globalization? A View from the Very Long Run”
  • Rodrik (2007), “Industrial development: Some stylized facts and policy directions”
  • Rodrik (2005), “Trade & Industrial Policy Reform” {chapter from Handbook of Development Economics vol 3B}
  • Rodríguez & Rodrik (2000), “Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Cross-National Evidence”
  • Robinson (2010), “Industrial Policy and Development: A Political Economy Perspective”
  • Baldwin (2014), “Trade and Industrialization after Globalization’s Second Unbundling: How Building and Joining a Supply Chain Are Different and Why It Matters”
  • Bruton (1998), “A Reconsideration of Import Substitution”
  • Krueger (1997), “Trade Policy and Economic Development: How We Learn”
  • Taylor (1998), “On the Costs of Inward-Looking Development: Price Distortions, Growth, and Divergence in Latin America”
  • DeLong (1995), “Trade Policy and America’s Standard of Living: An Historical Perspective” (published in Collins)
  • Irwin (2001), “Tariffs & Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America”
  • Irwin (2004), review of Ha Joon Chang’s Kicking Away the Ladder
  • Easterly (2009), review of Ha Joon Chang’s Bad Samaritans
  • Baldwin (1969)


Growth & Development

  • Gollin (2014), “The Lewis Model: A 60-Year Retrospective”
  • Banerjee & Duflo (2005), “Growth Theory through the Lens of Development Economics”
  • Kraay & McKenzie (2014), “Do Poverty Traps Exist? Assessing the Evidence”
  • Toye & Toye (2003), “The Origins and Interpretation of the Prebisch-Singer Thesis”
  • Szirmal (2011), “Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries, 1950–2005”
  • McMillan & Rodrik (2011), “Globalization, Structural Change, and Productivity Growth” (longer version)
  • Rodrik (2012), “Unconditional convergence in manufacturing” (shorter version)
  • Rodrik (2015), “Premature Deindustrialization” (shorter version)
  • Venables (2016), “Using Natural Resources for Development: Why Has It Proven So Difficult?”
  • { add Timmer & de Vries 2009 cliometrica ?? }
  • Rodrik (1999), “Where did all the growth go? External Shocks, Social Conflict, and Growth Collapses”
  • Rodrik (1998), “Globalisation, Social Conflict, and Economic Growth”
  • Easterly (2002), “How Did Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Become Heavily Indebted? Reviewing Two Decades of Debt Relief”
  • Banerjee & Duflo (2007), “The Economic Lives of the Poor”
  • Besley & Ghatak (2010), “Property Rights and Economic Development”
  • Jayachandran (2015), “The Roots of Gender Inequality in Developing Countries”
  • Blaydes & Kayser (2011), “Counting Calories: Democracy and Distribution in the Developing World”
  • Currie & Vogl (2013), “Lasting effects of childhood health in developing countries” (shorter version)
  • Hanushek & Woessmann (2012), “Schooling, educational achievement, and the Latin American growth puzzle”
  • Sandefur (2016), “Internationally Comparable Mathematics Scores for Fourteen African Countries”

Cross-country growth

  • Klenow & Rodríguez-Clare (2005), “Externalities & Growth” {from Handbook of Economic Growth, Volume 1A}
  • Easterly, Kremer, Pritchard & Summers (1993), “Good policy or good luck? Country growth performance and temporary shocks”
  • Crafts & O’Rourke (2014), “Twentieth Century Growth”
  • Easterly (2005), “National Policies and Economic Growth: A Reappraisal”
  • Easterly & Levine (2001), “It’s Not Factor Accumulation: Stylized Facts and Growth Models”
  • Pritchett (1997), “Divergence, Big Time”
  • Bosworth & Collins (2003), “Empirics of Growth: An Update”
  • Agenor (2016), “Caught in the Middle? The Economics of Middle-Income Traps”
  • Hsieh & Olken (2014), “The Missing ‘Missing Middle’ ” {about the size and distribution of firms in developing countries}
  • Márquez (2015), “The Mismeasure of Growth” {a visual representation of the gaps between various GDP datasets}

Agriculture & Structural Transformation

  • Herrendorf et al. (2014), “Growth and Structural Transformation”
  • Gollin (2010), “Agricultural Productivity and Economic Growth”
  • Gollin et al. (2016), “Two Blades of Grass: The Impact of the Green Revolution”
  • Gollin et al. (2014), “Agricultural Productivity Differences Across Countries”
  • Vollrath (2011), “The agricultural basis of comparative development”
  • {eberhardt & vollrath, crop type; ag tech ?}

Economic Growth

  • Jones (2015), “Facts of Economic Growth” {working paper}
  • Jones & Romer (2010), “The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital”
  • Aghion, Akigit, & Howitt (2014), “What Do We Learn From Schumpeterian Growth Theory?”
  • Jones (2011), “Misallocation, Economic Growth, and Input-Output Economics” {working paper}



  • Gupta, Ma, & Roy (2016), “States and Development: Early Modern India, China, and the Great Divergence”
  • T. Greer on war and state formation in China, Japan, and Europe
  • Grabowski (2011), “East Asia, Land Reform and Economic Development”
  • Amsden (1991), “Diffusion of Development: The Late-Industrializing Model and Greater East Asia”
  • Bosworth & Collins (1996), “Economic Growth in East Asia: Accumulation versus Assimilation”
  • Rodrik (1995), “Getting Interventions Right: How South Korea and Taiwan grew rich”
  • Lane (2017), “Manufacturing Revolutions: Industrial Policy and Networks in South Korea”
  • { more coming! }



Long run

  • Deng & O’Brien (2016), “China’s GDP Per Capita from the Han Dynasty to Communist Times”
  • Pomeranz (2008), “Chinese Development in Long-Run Perspective”
  • Brandt, Ma, & Rawski (2014), “From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History Behind China’s Economic Boom”
  • Zhang et al. (2008), “A test of climate, sun, and culture relationships from an 1810-year Chinese cave record”
  • Bai & Kung (2011), “Climate Shocks and Sino-Nomadic Conflict”
  • Lee & Feng (1999), “Malthusian Models and Chinese Realities: The Chinese Demographic System 1700-2000”
  • Lee, Campbell, & Feng (2002), “Positive Check or Chinese Checks?”
  • Daniel Little on Mark Elvin’s “high level equilibrium trap” {if anyone has a PDF of the original Elvin article that’s been published in several books, I’d appreciate it}
  • Edwards (2013), “Redefining Industrial Revolution: Song China and England”
  • Wright (2007), “An Economic Cycle in Imperial China? Revisiting Robert Hartwell on Iron and Coal”

Early Modern

  • Ma (2004), “Growth, Institutions and Knowledge: A Review and Reflection on the Historiography of 18th-20th century China”
  • Deng (2015), “China’s Population Expansion and Its Causes during the Qing Period, 1644–1911”
  • Baten, Ma, Morgan & Wang (2010), “Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18–20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics”
  • Moise (1977), “Downward Social Mobility in Pre-Revolutionary China”

the Great Divergence

  • Ma (2011), “Rock, scissors, paper: the problem of incentives and information in traditional Chinese state and the origin of Great Divergence”
  • Li & van Zanden (2012), “Before the Great Divergence? Comparing the Yangzi Delta and the Netherlands at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century”, also see van Zanden’s VoxEU’s summary
  • Brenner & Isett (2002), “England’s Divergence from China’s Yangzi Delta: Property Relations, Microeconomics, and Patterns of Development” [a critical analysis of Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence]
  • Huang (2002), “Development or Involution in Eighteenth-Century Britain and China? A Review of Kenneth Pomeranz’s ‘The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy‘”
  • Greif & Tabellini (2010), “Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared”
  • Greif & Tabellini (2017), “The clan and the corporation: Sustaining cooperation in China and Europe”
  • Bernhofen, Eberhardt, Li & Morgan (2016), “Market disintegration as a pre-cursor to the Great Divergence”, which summarises their papers (1, 2)

Republican China

  • Ma (2008), “Economic Growth in the Lower Yangzi Region of China in 1911-1937: A Quantitative and Historical Analysis”
  • Horesh (2009), “The pendulum swings again: recent debates on China’s prewar economy”


  • Meng, Qian & Yared (2015), “The Institutional Causes of China’s Great Famine, 1959–1961”
  • Li & Yang (2005), “The Great Leap Forward: Anatomy of a Central Planning Disaster”
  • Yao (1999), “The Chinese Economic Miracle”
  • Xu (2011), “The Fundamental Institutions of China’s Reforms and Development”
  • Naughton (2017), “Is China Socialist?”



Long run

  • Bhattacharyya (2011), “Five Centuries of Economic Growth in India: the Institutions Perspective”
  • Bayly (1985), “State and Economy in India over Seven Hundred Years”
  • Habib (1969), “Potentialities of Capitalistic Development in the Economy of Mughal India”

the Great Divergence

  • Clingingsmith & Williamson (2008), “Deindustrialization in 18th and 19th century India: Mughal decline, climate shocks and British industrial ascent”
  • Gupta (2009), “Competition and control in the market for textiles: The weavers and the East India Company” (chapter in How India Clothed the World)
  • Studer (2008), “India and the Great Divergence: Assessing the Efficiency of Grain Markets in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century India”
  • Broadberry, Custodis & Gupta (2014), “India and the great divergence: An Anglo-Indian comparison of GDP per capita, 1600–1871” { there is a simpler version of this in this book }

Colonial Period

  • Roy (2016), “The British Empire and the Economic Development of India (1858-1947)”
  • Mukherjee (2008), “The Return of the Colonial in Indian Economic History: The Last Phase of Colonialism in India” {probably the best of the many summary reiterations of the traditional nationalist-Marxist view of colonial rule, in the face of recent revisionism}
  • Roy (2016), “Were Indian Famines ‘Natural’ Or ‘Manmade’?”
  • Kuran & Singh (2013), “Economic Modernization in Late British India: Hindu-Muslim Differences”
  • Burgess & Donaldson (2010), “Can Openness Mitigate the Effects of Weather Shocks? Evidence from India’s Famine Era” [about railroads & famine]
  • Wolcott (1997), “Did Imperial Policies Doom the Indian Textile Industry?”
  • Lee (2015), “The Origins of Identity Politics: Caste in Colonial India”
  • Caruana-Galizia (2013), “Indian Regional Income Inequality: Estimates of Provincial GDP, 1875-1911”
  • Morris (1983), “Growth of Large-Scale Industry” (chapter from CEHIv2)
  • Brennan et al. (1997), “Towards an Anthropometric History of Indians under British Rule”
  • Chaudhary (2007), “An Economic History of Education in Colonial India”


  • Roy (2017), “The Origins of Import Substituting Industrialization in India”
  • Manish (2011), “Central Economic Planning and India’s Economic Performance, 1951–1965”
  • Broadberry & Gupta (2009), “The historical roots of India’s service-led development: A sectoral analysis of Anglo-Indian productivity differences, 1870–2000”; also see their VoxEU column
  • Rodrik & Subramanian (2005), “From ‘Hindu Growth’ to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition”
  • Basu (2009), “China and India: Idiosyncratic Paths to High Growth”
  • Basu (2008), “The Enigma of India’s Arrival: A Review of Arvind Virmani’s Propelling India: From Socialist Stagnation to Global Power
  • Basu & Maertens (2007), “The pattern and causes of economic growth in India”
  • Kochhar et al. (2006), “India’s pattern of development: What happened, what follows?”
  • DeLong (2001), “India Since Independence: An Analytic Growth Narrative” (published in In Search of Prosperity: Analytic Narratives on Economic Growth)
  • Bosworth & Collins (2008), “Accounting for Growth: Comparing China and India”
  • Bosworth, Collins, & Virmani (2006), “Sources of Growth in the Indian Economy”
  • Bhaskar & Gupta (2007), “India’s missing girls: biology, customs, and economic development”
  • Felipe, Kumar, & Abdon (2013), “Exports, capabilities, and industrial policy in India”
  • Aghion et al. (2008), “The Unequal Effects of Liberalization: Evidence from Dismantling the License Raj in India”
  • { a readable factor misallocation article for India? }



  • Bassino et al. (2015), “Japan and the Great Divergence, 725-1874”; also see the VoxEU column
  • Morillo (1995), “Guns and Government: A Comparative Study of Europe and Japan”
  • Saito (2005), “Pre-modern economic growth revisited: Japan and the West”
  • Sugihara (2004), “The state and the industrious revolution in Tokugawa Japan”
  • Saito (2010), “An industrious revolution in an East Asian market economy? Tokugawa Japan and implications for the Great Divergence”
  • Koyama, Moriguchi, & Sng (2015), “Geopolitics and Asia’s Little Divergence: A Comparative Analysis of State Building in China and Japan after 1850”
  • Saxonhouse (1991), “Economic Growth and Trade Relations: Japanese Performance in Long-Term Perspective”
  • Tang (2016), “A tale of two SICs: Japanese and American industrialisation in historical perspective”
  • Nicholas (2011), “The origins of Japanese technological modernization”
  • Ma (2004), “Why Japan, Not China, Was the First to Develop in East Asia: Lessons from Sericulture, 1850–1937”
  • Braguinsky & Hounshell (2015), “Spinning Tales about Japanese Cotton Spinning: Saxonhouse (1974) and Lessons from New Data”
  • Tang (2011), “Technological leadership and late development: evidence from Meiji Japan, 1868–1912”
  • Jorgenson & Nomura (2007), “The Industry Origins of the U.S.-Japan Productivity Gap”
  • { more coming! }



  • Dennison (2006), “Did serfdom matter? Russian rural society, 1750–1860”
  • Lindert & Nafziger (2014), “Russian Inequality on the Eve of Revolution”
  • Dennison & Nafziger (2013), “Living Standards in Nineteenth-Century Russia”
  • Markevich (2014), “Economic Development of the Late Russian Empire in a Regional Perspective”
  • Nafziger (2016), “Decentralization, Fiscal Structure, and Local State Capacity in Late-Imperial Russia”
  • Markevich & Zhuravskaya (2017), “The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire” (shorter version)

Soviet Union

  • Ofer (1987), “Soviet economic growth: 1928-1985”
  • Johnson & Temin (1993), “The Macroeconomics of NEP”
  • Gatrell & Harrison (1993), “The Russian and Soviet economies in two world wars: a comparative view”
  • Gregory & Harrison (2005), “Allocation under dictatorship: Research in Stalin’s archives”
  • Allen (2005) “A Reassessment of the Soviet Industrial Revolution”
  • Ricón, The Soviet Union series (it’s an on-going literature review of all things Soviet-related; especially recommended are his post on Soviet productive efficiency and his evaluation of the Allen view of the USSR.


Latin America

  • {more coming!}
  • Dornbusch & Edwards (1991), “The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America”
  • Thorp (1992), “A reappraisal of the origins of import-substitution industrialization”
  • Coatsworth (2005), “Structures, Endowments, and Institutions in the Economic History of Latin America”
  • Kay (2002), “Why East Asia Overtook Latin America: Agrarian Reform, Industrialisation and Development”
  • Williamson (2010), “Five centuries of Latin American income inequality”
  • Nunn (2008), “Slavery, Inequality, and Economic Development in the Americas: An Examination of the Engerman-Sokoloff Hypothesis”
  • Frankema (2009), “The Expansion of Mass Education in Twentieth Century Latin America: A Global Comparative Perspective”
  • Allen (2012) “The Colonial Origins of the Divergence in the Americas: A Labor Market Approach”
  • Edwards (2009), “Protectionism and Latin America’s historical economic decline”
  • Bertola & Williamson (2017), Has Latin American Inequality Changed Direction: Looking Over the Long Run (an open-access book)
  • Frankema & Masé (2014), “An Island Drifting Apart. Why Haiti is mired in poverty while the Dominican Republic forges ahead”
  • Colistete (2010), “Revisiting Import-Substituting Industrialisation in Post-War Brazil”
  • Colistete (2007), “Productivity, Wages, and Labor Politics in Brazil, 1945–1962”


  • Smith & Llorens (1998), Renaissance and Decay: A Comparison of Socioeconomic Indicators in Pre-Castro and Current-Day Cuba
  • McGuire & Frankel (2005), “Mortality Decline in Cuba, 1900-1959: Patterns, Comparisons, and Causes”
  • Ward & Devereux (2010), “The Road not taken: Pre-Revolutionary Cuban Living Standards in Comparative Perspective”

Australia, Canada, Argentina

  • Irwin (2007), “Australian Exceptionalism Revisited”
  • McLean (2004), “Australian Economic Growth in Historical Perspective”
  • McLean (2007), “Might Australia have failed?: Endowments, Institutions, and Contingency”
  • Inwood & Keay (2012), “Diverse paths to industrial development: evidence from late-nineteenth-century Canada”
  • Taylor (2014), “The Argentina Paradox: Microexplanations and Macropuzzles”
  • Frankema & Visker (2011), “Reversal of Fortune in Argentina: Exploring industrial labour productivity in comparison to Australia, 1907-1973”
  • Sanz-Villarroya (2005), “The convergence process of Argentina with Australia and Canada: 1875–2000”
  • Campos (2014), “A century of stagnation? Insights from the economic history of Argentina”
  • Díaz-Bonilla (2014), “Argentina: The Myth of a Century of Decline”
  • Francis, “Decline or Urbanisation? Argentina’s apparent decline during the twentieth century is more likely an illusion created by faulty GDP statistics”
  • Debowicz & Segal (2014), “Structural Change in Argentina, 1935–1960: The Role of Import Substitution and Factor Endowments”



  • Austin & Broadberry (2014), “The Renaissance of African Economic History”
  • Hopkins (2009), “The New Economic History of Africa”
  • Fenske (2010), “The Causal History of Africa”
  • Austin (2008), “The ‘Reversal of Fortune’ Thesis and the Compression of History”, an historian’s critique of various economists’ theories of African development.
  • Broadberry & Gardner (2014), “African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective”
  • Jerven (2010), “African Growth Recurring: An Economic History Perspective on African Growth Episodes, 1690-2010”
  • Jerven (2016), “Capitalism in Pre-Colonial Africa: A Review”
  • Fenske (2014), “Ecology, Trade, and States in Pre-Colonial Africa”
  • Fenske (2015), “African Polygamy: Past and Present”
  • Fenske (2013), “Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions”
  • The History of African Development
  • Manning, “Slavery and Slave Trade in West Africa, 1450-1930
  • Fourie, “The rise of education in Africa
  • Mariotti & Fourie (2014), “The Economics of Apartheid: an Introduction”
  • Fedderke & Simkins (2012), “Economic Growth in South Africa”
  • de Zwart (2011), “South African Living Standards in Global Perspective, 1835–1910”
  • Frankema (2013, 2014), “Africa and the Green Revolution A Global Historical Perspective”
  • Routley (2014), “Developmental States in Africa? A Review of Ongoing Debates and Buzzwords “


The Middle East

  • { more coming!! }
  • Rubin (2012), “Timur Kuran’s Framework and Economic Underdevelopment in the Islamic World”
  • Kuran (2004), “Why the Middle East Is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation”
  • Pamuk (2004), “Institutional change and the longevity of the Ottoman Empire, 1500–1800”
  • Karaman & Pamuk (2010), “Ottoman State Finances in European Perspective, 1500–1914”
  • Hansen (2001), “Learning to Tax: The Political Economy of the Opium Trade in Iran, 1921-1941”
  • Esfahani & Pesaran (2009), “The Iranian Economy in the Twentieth Century: A Global Perspective”
  • Kuran (2003), “The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East”
  • Rubin (2011), “Institutions, the Rise of Commerce and the Persistence of Laws: Interest Restrictions in Islam and Christianity”
  • Chaney (2016), “Religion and the Rise and Fall of Islamic Science”
  • Saleh (2015), “The Reluctant Transformation: State Industrialization, Religion, and Human Capital in Nineteenth-Century Egypt”
  • Panza (2013), De-industrialization and re-industrialization in the Middle East: reflections on the cotton industry in Egypt and in the Izmir region”
  • Panza & Williamson (2015), “Did Muhammad Ali foster industrialization in early nineteenth-century Egypt?”
  • Pamuk & Williamson (2011), “Ottoman de-industrialization, 1800–1913: assessing the magnitude, impact, and response”
  • Pryor (2007), “The Economic Impact of Islam on Developing Countries”
  • Stegl & Baten (2012), “Tall and shrinking Muslims, short and growing Europeans: The long-run welfare development of the Middle East, 1850–1980”
  • Korotayev (2000), “Parallel-Cousin (FBD) Marriage, Islamization, and Arabization”
  • Marquez (2015), “The Saudi Monarchy as a Family Firm”


“Deep History”

The area where development, history, institutions, geography, culture, biology, and colonial legacies intertwine in the social sciences is often labelled “comparative historical development”. (Morten Jerven derisively and unfairly but still amusingly calls it the “history matters” literature.)

The best overall surveys of this research are:

  • Nunn (2009), “The Importance of History for Economic Development”
  • Nunn (2014), “Historical Development”
  • Spolaore & Wacziarg (2013), “How deep are the roots of economic development?”

Bryan Caplan also had an excellent critical dissection of some of this literature.

For me the two most interesting individual papers of the ‘deep history’ genre are:

  • Putterman & Weil (2010), “Post-1500 Population Flows and the Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality” (also see their two VoxEU articles: this and this)
  • Galor & Özak (2016), “The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference”

Geography & development:

  • Andersen, Dalgaard & Selaya (2016), “Climate and the Emergence of Global Income Differences”
  • Hibbs & Olsson (2004), “Geography, biogeography, and why some countries are rich and others are poor”
  • Easterly & Levine (2003), “Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development”
  • Fenske & Kala, “Environmental economic history
  • Henderson et al., “On the spatial distribution of development: The roles of nature and history”
  • Dell et al. (2014), “What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate–Economy Literature”

‘Stateness’ & State Antiquity:

  • Borcan, Olsson, & Putterman (2015), “State History and Economic Development: Evidence from Six Millennia”
  • Chanda & Putterman (2007), “Early Starts, Reversals and Catch-up in the Process of Economic Development”
  • Bockstette, Chanda, & Putterman (2002), “States & Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start”
  • Hariri (2012), “The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood”
  • Olsson & Paik (2012), “A Western Reversal since the Neolithic? The long-run impact of early agriculture”

Ethnic and other kinds of heterogeneity:

  • Vollrath (2016), “Ethnic Fractionalization & Growth” (blog)
  • Easterly, Ritzen, & Woolcock (2006), “Institutions, Social Cohesion & Growth”
  • Wimmer (2015), “Is Diversity Detrimental? Ethnic Fractionalization, Public Goods Provision, and the Historical Legacies of Stateness”
  • Akbari, Bahrami-Rad & Kimbrough (2016), “Kinship, Fractionalization and Corruption”
  • Alesina, Glaeser, & Sacerdote (2001), “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?”

VoxEU has also just issued a 3-volume series of free e-booklets called The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History (~150 pages in each volume). It brings together very readable summaries of the “deep history” literature by some of the key researchers themselves. Parts one (global), two (Asia & Africa), and three (Europe & the Americas).

Unified growth theory:

  • Galor (2005), “From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory” [from Handbook of Economic Growth]
  • Jason Collins has a very nice blog on one of the core papers of UGT along with simulations and calibration exercises, as well as five additional posts summarising Galor’s book.

The following are not covered in any of the above surveys:

  • Beauchamp et al. (2011), “Molecular Genetics and Economics”
  • Benjamin et al. (2012), “The Promises and Pitfalls of Genoeconomics”
  • Winegard, Winegard, & Boutwell (2017), “Human Biological and Psychological Diversity”
  • Plomin et al. (2015), “Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics”
  • Polderman et al. (2015), “Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies”
  • Cesarini & Visscher (2017), “Genetics and educational attainment”
  • Collard & Foley (2002), “Latitudinal patterns and environmental determinants of recent human cultural diversity: do humans follow biogeographical rules?”
  • Woodley & Bell (2012), “Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations”
  • Jason Collins, Economics & Evolutionary Biology Reading List
  • Vollrath, “Genetic Factors in Savings Behavior
  • Vollrath, “Genetic Origins of Economic Development


  • Vollrath, “Who are you calling a Malthusian” (the single best short description of Malthusian economics ever)
  • Clark (2008), “In defense of the Malthusian interpretation of history” [especially for Clark’s response to Bowles’s and McCloskey’s critique]
  • Ashraf & Galor (2011), “Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch”
  • Lagerlöf (2016), “Understanding per-capita income growth in preindustrial Europe”
  • Wu (2015), “If not Malthusian, then why?”
  • Little, The Brenner Debate Revisited
  • Brenner (1976), “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe”
  • Findlay & Lundahl (2006), “Demographic Shocks and the Factor Proportions Model: From the Plague of Justinian to the Black Death” (chapter in this book)

{ …still unsorted…or not yet linked…}

  • DeLong (1999), “Seeing One’s Intellectual Roots: A Review Essay” (review of James Scott’s Seeing like a State); also see Henry Farrell’s response: “DeLong, Hayek, and Scott”; also see the Cato forum on Scott, with an essay by Scott and responses from various including DeLong
  • Hansen & Hansen (2016), “The historian’s craft and economics”
  • Fafchamps (1992), “Solidarity Networks in Preindustrial Societies: Rational Peasants with a Moral Economy”
  • north on polanyi
  • scott-popkin debate on moral economy
  • mccloskey-blyth exchange on polanyi
  • Stiglitz, rational peasants

  • Froeyman (2009), “Concepts of Causation in Historiography”
  • Bunzi (2004), “Counterfactual History: A User’s Guide”
  • Flandreau (1996), “The French Crime of 1873: An Essay on the Emergence of the International Gold Standard, 1870-1880”
  • Officer, “The Gold Standard” ( article)
  • Schirmer et al. (2010), “The State and Scope of the Economic History of Developing Regions”
  • Fearon (2003), “Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country”
  • Alesina et al. (2003), “Fractionalization”
  • Allen (2001), “The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War”
  • Roy (2014), “The Rise and Fall of Indian Economic History 1920–2013”
  • Morris (1963),”Towards a Reinterpretation of Nineteenth-Century Indian Economic History” + the reply by Raychaudhuri (1968), “A Re-interpretation of Nineteenth Century Indian Economic History?
  • McAlpin (1983), “Famines, Epidemics, and Population Growth: The Case of India”
  • Kitchener & Ma (2016), “Introduction to the Special Issue: A New Economic History of China”
  • Caldwell (1980), “Mass Education as a Determinant of the Timing of Fertility Decline”