Ethnographic and Field Data in Historical Economics
This chapter will cover recent research in historical economics that uses ethnographic data and data from surveys and lab experiments. The study of historical economics, particularly outside of non-Western countries, has been constrained by availability of historical data. However, recent work incorporates data and tools from other fields and sub-fields to fill this gap. For example, economists are increasingly taking advantage of ethnographic data sets compiled by anthropologists. There is also growing interest in the use of original survey data collection both within and across countries and lab-in-the-field experiments to answer questions on culture and institutions. Often, these tools are used together to provide complementary evidence on the question of interest. These sources of data have been particularly important for research on areas where there is limited historical data, and they have increased the scope of questions that can be examined. This chapter will overview these recent developments and highlight the benefits of these diverse methodologies and data sources.
Prepared for the "Handbook of Historical Economics", edited by Alberto Bisin and Giovanni Federico. I thank Vafa Behnam Roudsari for excellent research assistance and Nathan Nunn for helpful feedback. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.