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Economic Freedom in the Long Run: Evidence from OECD Countries (1850-2007)

  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura


    (Universidad Carlos III, London School of Economics, CEPR)

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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Paper provided by European Historical Economics Society (EHES) in its series Working Papers with number 0054.

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Length: 90 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0054
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