A cliometric counterfactual: what if there had been neither Fogel nor North?

Abstract

1993 Nobel laureates Robert Fogel and Douglass North were pioneers in the “new” economic history, or cliometrics. Their impact on the economic history discipline is great, though not without its critics. In this essay, we use both the “old” narrative form of economic history, and the “new” cliometric form to analyze the impact each had on the evolution of economic history.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A selection of the papers presented in these early meetings was published by Purdue University in 1967.

  2. 2.

    The Cliometric Society was formally organized in 1983 by Sam Williamson and Deirdre (nee Donald) McCloskey.

  3. 3.

    The first use of the term in print: “the logical structure necessary to make historical reconstructions from the surviving debris of past economic life essentially involves ideas of history, economics and statistics… has been labeled “Cliometrics.” (Davis et al. 1960, p. 540).

  4. 4.

    Temin (2016).

  5. 5.

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Press Release, 12 October 1993, Nobelprize.org, http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1993/press.html.

  6. 6.

    See for example Engerman (1996), Floud (1991), Lyons et al. (2008), Williamson (1991, 1994), and Williamson and Whaples (2003).

  7. 7.

    Williamson and Whaples (2003, p. 446).

  8. 8.

    Boldizzoni (2011). For earlier laments about the encroachment of theory and mathematics on the study of history, see Braudel (1949) and Polanyi (1944).

  9. 9.

    Perhaps more than anyone, D.N. McCloskey has been responsible for holding all economists, not just economic historians, accountable for moving the frontiers of knowledge forward and not simply using the latest techniques to measure something because it can be measured. For example, see McCloskey (1978, 1985, 1987, 2006).

  10. 10.

    The EHA founded in 1940 by “old” economic historians Anne Bezanson, Arthur Cole, Edwin Gay, Harold Innis and Earl Hamilton.

  11. 11.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. 25).

  12. 12.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. 29).

  13. 13.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. xi).

  14. 14.

    Lyons et al. (2008, p. 334).

  15. 15.

    Lyons et al. (2008, p. 335).

  16. 16.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. 71).

  17. 17.

    North (1965, pp. 86–87).

  18. 18.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. 73).

  19. 19.

    All of these articles, including the discussion by Domar and Gordon (1965), were published in the Fogel (1965), Supple (1965), Easterlin (1965), Gallman (1965), Cameron (1965) and Redlich (1965) American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings.

  20. 20.

    Davis (2000).

  21. 21.

    See Basu et al. (1987), Galiani and Sened (2014), and Menard and Shirley (2014), for discussions of North’s role in the new institutional economics movement.

  22. 22.

    Throughout this work we use citations as a measure of influence.

  23. 23.

    Such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, and Journal of Economic Literature.

  24. 24.

    For a visual of the impact of the JEH piece, see Fig 2.

  25. 25.

    Fogel (1964a, p. 234).

  26. 26.

    Davis (2000).

  27. 27.

    See Anonymous (1965), McClelland (1968), Mitchell (1965), and Nerlove (1966).

  28. 28.

    Davis (2000).

  29. 29.

    Davis (2000).

  30. 30.

    Whaples (1995, p. 143).

  31. 31.

    Meyer (1966, p. 87).

  32. 32.

    Riegel (1965, p. 636).

  33. 33.

    Saul (1966, p. 66).

  34. 34.

    Madden (1965, p. 612).

  35. 35.

    Whitney (1966, p. 276).

  36. 36.

    Davis (2000).

  37. 37.

    Rothstein (1965, p. 131).

  38. 38.

    Meyer (1966, p. 88).

  39. 39.

    Gould (1966, p. 474).

  40. 40.

    Williamson (1965, p. 110).

  41. 41.

    Williamson (1965, p. 111).

  42. 42.

    Hilton (1966, p. 237).

  43. 43.

    Goodstein (1965, p. 91).

  44. 44.

    Scheiber (1966, p. 278).

  45. 45.

    Kirkland (1967, p. 1494).

  46. 46.

    Erickson (1966, p. 107).

  47. 47.

    Erickson (1966, p. 109).

  48. 48.

    Hacker (1966, p. 175).

  49. 49.

    Madden (1965) and McClelland (1968).

  50. 50.

    Kirkland (1967, pp. 1493–1494).

  51. 51.

    Erickson (1966, p. 107).

  52. 52.

    Mitchell (1965, p. 603).

  53. 53.

    Engerman et al. (1994, p. 61).

  54. 54.

    1963 Board of Trustees members included Hugh Aitken, Rondo Cameron, Shepard Clough, Thomas Cochran, Ralph Hidy, JRT Hughes, EAJ Johnson, Herman Krooss, Frederic Lane, Theodore Marburg, William Parker, Wayne Rasmussen, Fritz Redlich, George Rogers Taylor, Martin Wolfe.

  55. 55.

    EHA archives, folders 18–27, BoT meeting minutes, Sept 4, 1963, Club Room of the Carolina Inn at Chapel Hill NC.

  56. 56.

    Lyons et al. (2008).

  57. 57.

    EHA archives, letter from North to William Parker dated Feb 11, 1966.

  58. 58.

    EHA archives, letter from Davis to Hal Williamson dated March 7, 1966.

  59. 59.

    EHA archives, Letter from Hal Williamson to Herman Krooss dated Feb 14, 1966.

  60. 60.

    EHA archives, letter from Hidy to Hal Williamson dated Mar 3, 1966.

  61. 61.

    EHA archives, Letter Krooss to Williamson dated Mar 7, 1966.

  62. 62.

    Lyons et al. (2008, p. 201).

  63. 63.

    From 1941–1967 the Tasks issue was the December issue of the journal. In 1968 this was changed, and the fall meeting of 1968 was the focus of the March 1969 issue. The March issue continued to be the Tasks issue through 1983. From 1984–1996 it migrated to the June issue, and beginning in 1997 the journal dropped the formal connection between the meetings and the journal. From the 1996 EHA meetings onward, papers presented at the conference were accorded no special treatment regarding submission or publication in the JEH.

  64. 64.

    See Diebolt (2016).

  65. 65.

    See the seminal work of Darné and Diebolt (2004).

  66. 66.

    Williamson's (1974) general equilibrium model is a key reference here. See also Diebolt (2012).

  67. 67.

    Fogel (1964a, p. 239).

  68. 68.

    Taylor (1965, p. 892).

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Diebolt, C., Haupert, M. A cliometric counterfactual: what if there had been neither Fogel nor North?. Cliometrica 12, 407–434 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-017-0167-8

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Keywords

  • Cliometrics
  • Douglass north
  • Robert fogel
  • Outliers methodology
  • Journal of economic history

JEL Classification

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  • B23
  • B25
  • B31