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Some Fundamental Puzzles In Economic History/Development


  • Douglass C. North

    (Washington University)


In this essay I would like to confront a number of fundamental puzzles in economic history/development--puzzles that go to the heart of the nature of economic change. They can be broadly classified under two general headings: how to account for the uneven and erratic pattern of both historical change and contemporary development and how to model this processs of change and development? Can we use the tools at hand-- ie the rationality assumption and growth theory we employ in economics? Let me elaborate on the nature of the puzzles and the connection between them.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglass C. North, 1995. "Some Fundamental Puzzles In Economic History/Development," Economic History 9509001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9509001
    Note: Type of Document - Word DOS 5.0; prepared on PC; to print on HP Laserjet; pages: 13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul R. Milgrom & Douglass C. North & Barry R. Weingast, 1990. "The Role Of Institutions In The Revival Of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, And The Champagne Fairs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, March.
    2. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
    3. Hahn, F H, 1987. "Information, Dynamics and Equilibrium," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 34(4), pages 321-334, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Azariadis, Costas & Stachurski, John, 2005. "Poverty Traps," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5 Elsevier.
    2. Mark White, 1997. "Legal Practice and Economic Adaptation," Economic History 9703001, EconWPA.
    3. Joachim Ahrens & Patrick Jünemann, 2011. "Adaptive Efficiency and Pragmatic Flexibility: Characteristics of Institutional Change in Capitalism, Chinese-style," Chapters,in: Institutional Variety in East Asia, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2007. "Localized Appropriability: Pecuniary Externalities in Knowledge Exploitation," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 200710, University of Turin.
    5. Jorge Álvarez, 2013. "The evolution of inequality in Australasia and the River Plate, 1870-1914," Documentos de trabajo 31, Programa de Historia Económica, FCS, Udelar.
    6. Jorge Álvarez & Henry Willebald, 2013. "Agrarian income distribution, land ownership systems, and economic performance: Settler economies during the first globalization," Documentos de trabajo 30, Programa de Historia Económica, FCS, Udelar.

    More about this item


    institutions development change growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O00 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - General - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative


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