Best papers/books in economic history of the last decades


To record some good literatures on economic history for check later.

First is  proposes a list of ten papers/works that need to be read (in my opinion) by anyone interested in economic history.

Ten best papers/books in economic history of the last decades (part 1)

Ten best papers/books in economic history of the last decades (part 2)

  • Higgs, Robert. “Wartime Prosperity? A Reassessment of the US Economy in the 1940s.” Journal of Economic History 52, no. 01 (1992): 41-60.
  • Allen, Robert C. The British industrial revolution in global perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Broadberry, Stephen, Bruce MS Campbell, Alexander Klein, Mark Overton, and Bas Van Leeuwen. British economic growth, 1270–1870. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Chilosi, David, Tommy E. Murphy, Roman Studer, and A. Coşkun Tunçer. “Europe’s many integrations: Geography and grain markets, 1620–1913.” Explorations in Economic History 50, no. 1 (2013): 46-68.
  • Olmstead, Alan L., and Paul W. Rhode. Creating Abundance. Cambridge Books (2008).
  • Carlos, Ann M., and Frank D. Lewis. Commerce by a frozen sea: Native Americans and the European fur trade. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.
  • Floud, Roderick, Robert W. Fogel, Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong. The changing body: Health, nutrition, and human development in the western world since 1700. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • De Vries, Jan. The industrious revolution: consumer behavior and the household economy, 1650 to the present. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Anderson, Terry Lee, and Peter Jensen Hill. The not so wild, wild west: Property rights on the frontier. Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Vedder, Richard K., and Lowell E. Gallaway. Out of work: unemployment and government in twentieth-century America. NYU Press, 1997.

Then posted his list:

1. Greg Clark’s A Farewell to Alms (though I totally disagree with it, it really grabbed me)

2. Peter Temin’s Roman Market Economy

3. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein’s The Choosen Few

4. Douglass North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast’s Violence and Social Orders

5. Ken Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence


Also inspired by Vincent Geloso offer a list of the 20-25 books in economic history published since 2000 which he have found most stimulating or provocative.

The most stimulating economic history books since 2000

Moreover, he also has a bigger Economic History Books page, which is intended to be a list of survey & reference books for the economic history of particular regions or countries. The following is the Japan and China part.


The very very recent The Economic History of China (2016) by Glahn has no equivalent. There is no other book at the moment which simultaneously contains a readable narrative of the full sweep of Chinese economic history; and reflects recent scholarship both Chinese and international; and covers the major themes and controversies of the historiography in the manner of Elvin’s The Patterns of the Chinese Past (which is now quasi-ancient but still worth reading). Glahn’s book might have dealt a little bit more with the controversies surrounding the revisionism of Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence, which really changed the terms of the debate. But I’m cavilling.

An older overview is Perkins, Agricultural Development in China 1368-1968. Slightly idiosyncratic choice: Bray’s The Rice Economies: Technology & Development in Asian Societies. Lee & Feng, One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700-2000 is a demographic and family history of China. Rawski’s Chinese History in Economic Perspective is much more limited in scope than it sounds, but at least it’s free online !


Given Japan’s status as the premier non-Western late industrialiser, there should be more books on Japan’s economic development with updated research. An ideal volume would start from the late Tokugawa period with Japan’s own version of the “industrious revolution” and the Meiji Restoration. It should also cover not only Japan’s pre-war industrialisation but also assessments of Japan’s post-war industrial policy and state planning (as described by Chalmers Johnson). Some books with various shortcomings:



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