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Transaction Costs Through Time

  • Douglass C. North

    (Washington University)

An economic definition of transaction costs are the costs of measuring what is being exchanged and enforcing agreements. In the larger context of societal evolution they are all the costs involved in human interaction over time. It is this larger context that I wish to explore in this essay. The concept is a close kin to the notion of social capital advanced by James Coleman (1990) and applied imaginatively to studying the differential patterns of Italian regional development by Robert Putnam in Making Democracy Work (1993). This essay, therefore, is a study in economic history which focuses on the costs of human coordination and cooperation through time which I regard as the key dilemma of societies past, present and future.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Economic History with number 9411006.

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Date of creation: 25 Nov 1994
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9411006
Note: ascii text, PostScript available, 4187 words
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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