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Economic Performance Through Time: The Limits to Knowledge

  • Douglass C. North

In this essay I propose to explore what we can and cannot learn about the way economies evolve over time. The focus of the essay is on the dynamics of change--political, social, and of course economic; and therefore the key word is time. In section I I outline the process of economic change as I understand it; in section II I specify the questions we must answer in order to understand that process; in the final section I tentatively identify which of those questions I believe are amenable to being answered with sufficient research and which I believe to be beyond our ability to answer. I need hardly add that my conclusions are highly speculative.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Economic History with number 9612004.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 17 Dec 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9612004
Note: Type of Document - Word Doc; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP Laser; pages: 23
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
  2. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  3. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Giorgio Fagiolo, 1996. "Learning in evolutionary environment," CEEL Working Papers 9605, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  4. Douglass C. North, 1993. "The Paradox of the West," Economic History 9309005, EconWPA.
  5. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
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