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'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)

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  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

Abstract

Institutions – the structures of rules and norms governing economic transactions – are widely assigned a central role in economic development. Yet economic history is still dominated by the belief that institutions arise and survive because they are economically efficient. This paper shows that alternative explanations of institutions – particularly those incorporating distributional effects – are consistent with economic theory and supported by empirical findings. Distributional conflicts provide a better explanation than efficiency for the core economic institutions of pre-industrial Europe – serfdom, the community, the craft guild, and the merchant guild. The paper concludes by proposing four desiderata for any future economic theory of institutions.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2066.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2066

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Cited by:
  1. Koyama, Mark, 2010. "Evading the 'Taint of Usury': The usury prohibition as a barrier to entry," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 420-442, October.
  2. Maria Bas & Ivan Ledezma, 2007. "Market Access and the Evolution of within Plant Productivity in Chile," CESifo Working Paper Series 2077, CESifo Group Munich.

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