NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Economics and the Modern Economic Historian

Ran Abramitzky

NBER Working Paper No. 21636
Issued in October 2015, Revised in October 2015
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

I reflect on the role of modern economic history in economics. I document a substantial increase in the percentage of papers devoted to economic history in the top-5 economic journals over the last few decades. I discuss how the study of the past has contributed to economics by providing ground to test economic theory, improve economic policy, understand economic mechanisms, and answer big economic questions. Recent graduates in economic history appear to have roughly similar prospects to those of other economists in the economics job market. I speculate how the increase in availability of high quality micro level historical data, the decline in costs of digitizing data, and the use of computationally intensive methods to convert large-scale qualitative information into quantitative data might transform economic history in the future.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21636

Published: Ran Abramitzky, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," The Journal of Economic History, vol 75(04), pages 1240-1251.

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