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Palgrave Macmillan

An Economist’s Guide to Economic History

  • Book
  • © 2018


  • Introduces the field of economic history to economists
  • Calls academics into action to affect change in economics pedagogy and research
  • Enables readers to think more critically about the economic ideas that are used today

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Economic History (PEHS)

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About this book

Without economic history, economics runs the risk of being too abstract or parochial, of failing to notice precedents, trends and cycles, of overlooking the long-run and thus misunderstanding ‘how we got here’. Recent financial and economic crises illustrate spectacularly how the economics profession has not learnt from its past.

This important and unique book addresses this problem by demonstrating the power of historical thinking in economic research. Concise chapters guide economics lecturers and their students through the field of economic history, demonstrating the use of historical thinking in economic research, and advising them on how they can actively engage with economic history in their teaching and learning.

Blum and Colvin bring together important voices in the field to show readers how they can use their existing economics training to explore different facets of economic history. Each chapter introduces a question or topic, historical context or research method and explores how they can be used in economics scholarship and pedagogy. In a century characterised to date by economic uncertainty, bubbles and crashes, An Economist’s Guide to Economic History is essential reading.

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Table of contents (50 chapters)

  1. Part I

  2. Part II


   “Every economist who appreciates the importance of economic history should read this book as they will learn so much from the wealth of the material it covers. More importantly, all the other economists, those who do not yet know why economic history matters to them, should read it too. Whatever the subject – financial crises, innovation, trade wars, competition policy, and many others – understanding the historical perspective is essential to sound economic analysis and must be part of what students of economics are taught.” (Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge, UK)

“Economists have much to gain from studying economic history seriously. This excellent volume explains why, elaborates what this entails, and demonstrates the potential for synergies between economics and economic history. The result is a compelling manifesto.” (Nicholas Crafts, Professor of Economic History, University of Warwick, UK)

​“The list of contributors to this project is truly impressive, as is the breadth of the topics covered. The result is a terrific teaching resource that will give students a good sense of the many ways in which economic history can help economics come alive.” (Kevin H. O’Rourke, Chichele Professor of Economic History, University of Oxford, UK)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK

    Matthias Blum, Christopher L. Colvin

About the editors

Matthias Blum and Christopher L. Colvin are economic historians based at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. Blum has research interests in measurement, health and wellbeing, and economic development in the long-run. Colvin works on historical banking crises, corporate governance and the economics of religion. Besides teaching and supervising students in economic history, they always make a point of incorporating historical thinking into the other field courses they teach, including econometrics, development economics, industrial organisation and managerial economics.  

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