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Sunday, February 14, 2016

'Economic History is Dead; Long Live Economic History?'

In graduate school, we were required to take a history of economic thought course and there were two courses on US economic history (and we faced a core exam in the history of thought if we got less than a certain grade). Requirements like that have faded over time in most graduate schools, in part to make room for the expanded technical training needed to understand the modern literature. But there needs to be room for history too:

Economic history is dead; long live economic history?, The Economist: Two years ago, in a very interesting paper, Peter Temin bemoaned the decline of economic history as a research topic at universities. ...
But is economic history really dead? Last weekend, Britain's Economic History Society hosted its annual three-day conference in Telford, attempting to show the subject was still alive and kicking. The economic historians present at the gathering were bullish about the future. ... One reason for this may be that, as we pointed out in 2013, it is widely believed amongst scholars, policy makers and the public that a better understanding of economic history would have helped to avoid the worst of the recent crisis.
However, renewed vigor can be most clearly seen in the debates economists are now having with each other. ...
In order to investigate ... the historical claims of economists over issues as varied as the impact of high public debt and the causes of inequality, the contribution of historians—who have in fact mostly stayed away from these debates—is desperately needed. Economic history may well be dead as a subject studied in independent academic departments, as it was at universities in the 1970s. But as a subject that is needed as part of the study of economics and the making of public policy, economic history is—and should be—very much alive. 

    Posted by on Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 11:31 AM in Economics, History of Thought | Permalink  Comments (28)


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