Economic History and the Policymaker

  • Tim Leunig
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


Politicians, and the officials who serve them, live in the present. But making good policy requires an understanding of the past. History is important when making economic policy, because economics has many regularities that can be understood, and which yield useful predictions. This chapter, written by a senior policy advisor to the UK government, argues that historical knowledge is of particular importance to prepare for large and uncommon events, and to assess whether or not “this time is different”.

JEL Classification

A22 F13 N40 N70 

Reading List

  1. Clark, Gregory. 1987. Why Isn’t the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills. Journal of Economic History 47 (1): 141–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Crafts, Nicholas. 2011. Delivering Growth While Reducing Deficits: Lessons from the 1930s. London: Centre Forum Scholar
  3. Crafts, Nicholas, and Peter Fearon, eds. 2013. The Great Depression of the 1930s: Lessons for Today. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. David, Paul A. 1985. Clio and the Economics of QWERTY. The American Economic Review 75 (2) (Papers & Proceedings): 332–337.Google Scholar
  5. Gerschenkron, Alexander. 1962. Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective. Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  6. Goldin, Claudia, and Lawrence F. Katz. 2016. A Most Egalitarian Profession: Pharmacy and the Evolution of a Family-Friendly Occupation. Journal of Labor Economics 34 (3): 705–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———, eds. 2018. Women Working Longer. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hobsbawm, Eric. (1969) 1999. Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution. The New Press.Google Scholar
  9. Huang, X., ed. 2013. Modern Economic Development in Japan and China: Developmentalism, Capitalism, and the World Economic System. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  10. Irwin, Douglas A. 1998. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff: A Quantitative Assessment. Review of Economics and Statistics 80 (2): 326–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Maddison, Angus. 2001. The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Siles-Brügge, Gabriel. 2014. Explaining the Resilience of Free Trade: The Smoot–Hawley Myth and the Crisis. Review of International Political Economy 21 (3): 535–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. The Economist. 2008. The Battle of Smoot-Hawley. December 18.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Leunig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environment, Food and Rural AffairsUK GovernmentLondonUK

Personalised recommendations