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Economic Performance Through Time: The Limits to Knowledge

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  • Douglass C. North

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglass C. North, 1996. "Economic Performance Through Time: The Limits to Knowledge," Economic History 9612004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9612004
    Note: Type of Document - Word Doc; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP Laser; pages: 23
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-352, July.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
    5. Douglass C. North, 1993. "The Paradox of the West," Economic History 9309005, EconWPA.
    6. 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 912-950, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Katz, Jorge, 2001. "Structural reforms, productivity and technological change in Latin America," Libros de la CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 64 edited by Eclac.
    2. Paquet, Gilles, 1998. "Evolutionary cognitive economics," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 343-357, September.
    3. Taub, Bart & Zhao, Rui, 2008. "Why doesn't Luxembourg send all its capital to India?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1335-1346, December.
    4. Kispál-Vitai, Zsuzsanna, 2006. "Gondolatok a szövetkezetelmélet fejlődéséről
      [Ideas for developing cooperative theory]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 69-84.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    evolve change history economies;

    JEL classification:

    • N - Economic History

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