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Economic freedom in the long run: evidence from OECD countries (1850–2007)

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  • Leandro Prados De La Escosura

Abstract

This paper presents historical indices for the main dimensions of economic freedom and an aggregate index for nowadays developed countries -(pre-1994) OECD, for short-. Economic liberty expanded over the last one-and-a-half centuries, reaching two thirds of its maximum possible. Its evolution has been, however, far from linear. After a substantial improvement since mid-nineteenth century, World War I brought a major setback. The post-war recovery up to 1929 was followed by a dramatic decline in the 1930s and significant progress took place during the Golden Age but fell short from the pre-World War I peak. A steady expansion since the early 1980s has resulted in the highest levels of economic liberty of the last two centuries. Each main dimension of economic freedom exhibited a distinctive trend and its contribution to the aggregate index varied over time. Nonetheless, improved property rights provided the main contribution to the long-run advancement of economic liberty.
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  • Leandro Prados De La Escosura, 2016. "Economic freedom in the long run: evidence from OECD countries (1850–2007)," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(2), pages 435-468, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:69:y:2016:i:2:p:435-468
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ehr.2016.69.issue-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General

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