Thursday, January 12, 2023

Economics and History

 I have argued numerous times that the differences between economic and history tend to be exagerated, usually by economists who want to criticize history or historians who want to criticize economics. So, I really liked this paper by Sheilagh Ogilvie that reviews research on serfdom by both historians and economists and makes the case that the differences are exagerated and that the diferences that do exist make the fields complements, not substitues.

Economics and History: Analyzing Serfdom

Economics and history are often regarded as antithetical. This paper argues the opposite. It builds its case by showing how economics and history provide complementary approaches to analyzing a fundamental historical institution: serfdom. The paper scrutinizes three questions: how serfdom shaped peasant choices, how it constrained those choices, and how it affected entire societies. By working together, economics and history have generated better answers to these questions than either discipline could have achieved in isolation. Economic and historical approaches, the paper concludes, are not substitutes but complements.