the individual does not preclude the possibility of statistical generalisa- tion where I] RELATION OF ECONOMIC HISTORY TO ECONOMIC THEORY This guide is sponsored by the American Economic Association. It lists more than Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennial ed. economics and history by combining theory with quantitative methods, the Cliometric Society and its American brethren, the Economic History Association ( EHA), statistical and econometric analysis based on systematically ordered data.
Economic history and economics[ edit ] Yale University economist Irving Fisher wrote in on the relationship between economics and economic history in his "Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions" Econometrica, Vol.
The study of dis-equilibrium may proceed in either of two ways. We may take as our unit for study an actual historical case of great dis-equilibrium, such as, say, the panic of ; or we may take as our unit for study any constituent tendency, such as, say, deflation, and discover its general laws, relations to, and combinations with, other tendencies. The former study revolves around events, or facts; the latter, around tendencies.
The former is primarily economic history; the latter is primarily economic science.
Both sorts of studies are proper and important. Each helps the other. The panic of can only be understood in light of the various tendencies involved—deflation and other; and deflation can only be understood in the light of various historical manifestations— and other. There is a school of thought among economic historians that splits economic history—the study of how economic phenomena evolved in the past—from historical economics—testing the generality of economic theory using historical episodes.
US economic historian Charles P. Kindleberger explained this position in his book Historical Economics: The term cliometrics was originally coined by Jonathan R. Hughes and Stanley Reiter in and refers to Cliowho was the muse of history and heroic poetry in Greek mythology.
Cliometricians argue their approach is necessary because the application of theory is crucial in writing solid economic history, while historians generally oppose this view warning against the risk of generating anachronisms. Early cliometrics was a type of counterfactual history.
However, counterfactualism is no longer its distinctive feature. Some have argued that cliometrics had its heyday in the s and s and that it is now neglected by economists and historians. History of capitalism A new field calling itself the "History of Capitalism" has emerged in US history departments since about the year It includes many topics traditionally associated with the field of economic history, such as insurance, banking and regulation, the political dimension of business, and the impact of capitalism on the middle classes, the poor and women and minorities.
The field utilizes the existing research of business historybut has sought to make it more relevant to the concerns of history departments in the United States, including by having limited or no discussion of individual business enterprises. However, although this approach — foregrounding quantitative methods and recourse to theory — had become broadly dominant among economic historians working in economics departments and more widely in associations and international economic history journals, it nonetheless did not manage to prevent the decline of economic history in general.
Its low representation and lack of notoriety among economists today cannot be denied. Historians see economists as uncultivated, inveterate apostles of quantification, mathematical models often a deterrent for historiansand neoliberalism, while economists perceive historians as exalting culturalism and relativism, ascribing more reality to discourse than to action, and being incapable of giving general scope to their analysis.
Historians consider that economists use statistics and conceive of the rationality of behaviour with as little critical distance as historians from a century ago.
Economic statistics - Wikipedia
Economists view historians as having abandoned the rigour of numbers and the generalist aim in favour of literary arguments and case studies, much like economists during the first half of the twentieth century. Each discipline sees in the other the reflection of a past it wants to forget. This shift has taken place over sufficient time to affect not only publications and research, but also teaching. This is undoubtedly the aspect that most damages the chances of renewing economic history today: While this dual negative trend can be explained, as we have seen, by parallel developments specific to each discipline, it is important not to underestimate a common factor that is related to political change.
In Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty rightly notes that while many economic history studies focusing on income and capital inequalities were conducted in the ss, in both Europe and the United States, they almost completely disappeared afterwards, in connection with the reduced political attention paid to these topics and the rising influence of the idea that capitalism would evolve and lead to lower economic inequality.
More generally, the decline of economic history coincided with the decline of broad narratives aimed at offering systemic, historical explanations of the foundations of economic regimes, including the most contemporary.
The field of economic history was therefore strongly marked by the ideology of the end of history and its political and economic correlate, namely the idea of the necessary or at least strongly desired triumph of liberal democracies. This idea has not completely disappeared: Nevertheless, it seems significant that the studies in economic history that have garnered the most attention in public debate all share a similar message, which breaks with the teleological presuppositions that had put an end to past reflexions about history.
A common conclusion among these otherwise very different works could be, on the contrary, that there is nothing inevitable justifying the belief that our economic system will evolve towards less inequality, fewer financial crises, less violent relationships linked to debt, and production systems that are sustainable in both economic and ecological terms. New avenues As we have seen, the institutional situation of economic history and the present state of interdisciplinary dialogue fails to inspire much optimism.
And yet, at the same time, there is an increasing demand from the general public, politicians, and students for this sort of research and teaching. We believe that certain parallel developments among both historians and economists give hope for new points of convergence or at least discussions, fuelling a joint return of economic history in both disciplines.
We identify three kinds of approach — although there are undoubtedly more — that currently show common aims among economists and historians: Two very different types of studies can be identified. The first, already mentioned, focuses on constructing long-term statistical series with a view to reviving the study of cycles, understanding the long-term dynamics of capitalism, and situating the present moment within these dynamics.
The second trend is very different and aims to determine the long-term economic consequences of a reform or an institution, by applying the statistical methods usually used to evaluate public policies.
It is a question of using history as a laboratory in order to determine causal relationships that can then be interpreted in terms of economic theory. In most cases, it is probably impossible to create a simple synthesis between the two. Nonetheless, such studies substantially alter the timeframe in which economists are used to working, thereby paving the way for history to be better taken into account in economic theories.
Despite their differences, all these works radically and substantially altered the timeframe that had been used in history and economics for several decades. Economists are now turning to the past and once again broaching the historical dimensions of institutions and markets. By seeking to grasp the long-term evolutions of economic structures, the intention is to reflect collectively upon norms, institutions, corporations, industrial and economic privileges, multiple ways of considering European expansion, the economic policies of empires, the birth of capitalism, etc.
This therefore radically changes the scale on which economic relationships are analysed. This perspective lends itself well to points of convergence with certain economics analyses that include objects of study linked to the globalisation of exchange, to financial flows, and to credit relationships, at a macroeconomic and microeconomic level although international and comparative studies are less developed for the latter. It is from this perspective that the relationship between history and economics has been the most fruitful recently.
Economic history - Wikipedia
This has been particularly salient in the wake of the book by historian Kenneth Pomeranz showing comparable levels of development in certain regions of China and England before the industrial revolution. This example also shows that renewing economic history, particularly by going back to the long-term, does not necessarily mean returning to what used to be done several decades ago.
In this particular case, the shift in comparative scale radically changed the traditional history of the industrial revolution that had been written 50 years earlier. Broadening comparison in this way also resulted in more critical analysis of statistical methods than in previous long-term economic history monographs. However, the scope of changes in scale extends beyond comparative history. Economic history has also benefited from analysis of the connections and globalised itineraries of certain merchants or products.
In a study focusing on a Jewish partnership in the first half of the eighteenth century, Francesca Trivellato offers a precise reconstruction of the different commercial ties between Sephardic merchants and their fellow Jews, as well as Catholic agents in Lisbon and Hindu tradesmen in Goa. In her analysis, which constantly combines micro and macro levels, local and global scales, Trivellato looks at the concrete workings and institutional, social, and discursive machinery of intercultural trade.
Even though the convergence between disciplines is far from established in these fields, given their substantial methodological differences, the avenues explored by historians are nonetheless similar to the questions at the foundation of economic theories and sociology what is a market? Moreover, economists and historians show a common desire to enrich their analysis of human behaviour, notably by calling on other disciplines and on psychology and social network analysis in particular.
Psychology seems to be making a very visible return to historical analysis, whether in the history of emotions or, from a very different perspective, in neurohistory and cognitive history.