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The Growth and Decay of Custom: The Role of the New Institutional Economics in Economic History

  • Basu, Kaushik
  • Jones, Eric
  • Schlicht, Ekkehart

Customs and institutions affect and are affected by economic relations and processes. The two-way interaction is particularly important in studying history where the scale of the temporal canvas ensures that very few variables can be treated as parametric. This paper assesses the methodology which attempts the task. In particular it examines the problem of endogenizing customs, evaluates claims for the optimality of institutions, and also comments on the interplay between structural and inertial forces. Recent work in the new institutional economics stresses structural forces, while traditional history emphasizes inertial forces, but on closer analysis these are shown to be complementary.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 3328.

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Date of creation: 1987
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Publication status: Published in Explorations in Economic History 1 24(1987): pp. 1-21
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:3328
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  1. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1975. "A Neoclassical Theory of Wealth Distribution," Munich Reprints in Economics 3386, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1984. "Plant Closings, Worker Reallocation Costs and Efficiency Gains to Labor Representation on the Board of Directors: Comment on Furubotn/Wiggins," Munich Reprints in Economics 3342, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. von Weizsacker, Carl Christian, 1971. "Notes on endogenous change of tastes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 345-372, December.
  4. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
  5. Jones, E L, 1974. "Institutional Determinism and the Rise of the Western World," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(1), pages 114-24, March.
  6. Field, Alexander James, 1984. "Microeconomics, Norms, and Rationality," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 683-711, July.
  7. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  8. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1969. "Classificatory Notes on the Production and Transmission of Technological Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 29-35, May.
  9. Schlicht, Ekkehart, . "Isolation and Aggregation in Economics," Monographs in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics, number 3.
  10. Field, Alexander James, 1981. "The problem with neoclassical institutional economics: A critique with special reference to the North/Thomas model of pre-1500 Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 174-198, April.
  11. Basu, Kaushik, 1986. "One Kind of Power," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 259-82, July.
  12. Bauer, P T, 1971. "Economic History as Theory," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(150), pages 163-79, May.
  13. Wittman, Donald, 1982. "Efficient Rules in Highway Safety and Sports Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 78-90, March.
  14. Akerlof, George A, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617, November.
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