Economic History

Economic history has a long tradition at CEPR. Several economic historians were affiliated with the Human Resources programme, under the co-Directorships of Roderick Floud, Heather Joshi, Barry Supple and Nicholas Crafts. In 1992 and 1993, for example, Crafts and CEPR Research Fellow Gianni Toniolo led a research network on “Economic Growth in Postwar Europe”, funded by the European Commission. This led to the publication in 1996 of Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945, edited by Crafts and Toniolo, followed by Quantitative Aspects of Post-war European Economic Growth, edited by Crafts and Bart Van Ark, in 1997.

In 2004 the CEPR launched its Economic History Initiative (EHI), co-ordinated by Stephen Broadberry and Kevin O'Rourke. EHI was launched at a public discussion meeting on 28 April 2004, at which CEPR Research Fellow Marc Flandreau asked ‘Why Do Emerging Market Borrowing Premiums Decline? Lessons from History’. In the same year, EHI applied for and obtained EC funding for a Research Training Network on Unifying the European Experience: Historical Lessons of Pan-European Development. The network led to the publication in 2010 of the two-volume Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe. In 2005, Flandreau developed the Past, Present and Policy (PPP) project, and in 2008 the EHI launched the Historical Patterns of Development and Underdevelopment project which concluded in 2012. Most recently the Economic History programme was involved in applying for, and obtaining, funding for an Initial Training Network in Macroeconomics and economic history, whose activities will begin in late 2013.

The aim of the new Economic History programme is to make CEPR the focal point for cliometric research in Europe. Like the EHI, it aims to promote comparative and pan-European economic history, moving away from disjointed national histories. It seeks to improve our statistical knowledge of the European past. And it seeks to promote economic history which is "presentist", using the past to illuminate current debates on macroeconomic policy, economic growth, globalization, and other pressing policy issues. 

The Economic History Programme is directed by Stephen Broadberry (University of Oxford).

Key areas in which EH researchers are currently working include:

  • Macroeconomic and financial history: financial and banking crises; the Great Depression; international capital markets and debt crises
  • Economic growth in the very long run: quantifying economic growth in the long (1800-2000) and very long (1000-2000) run; demography, human capital and growth; the transition to modern economic growth; the Great Divergence; the history of technological change
  • Institutions and economic outcomes: political institutions and long run economic development; culture and economic outcomes
  • The history of the international economy: trade and trade policy; border effects in history; international factor flows

The Programme's first Symposium took place in Perugia on 12-14 April 2013, organized by the Programme's Director, Kevin O’Rourke, and Research Fellows Steve Broadberry and Gianni Toniolo, with the generous support of the Banca d'Italia. In addition to papers on topics such as macroeconomic and financial history, economic growth in the very long run, institutions and economic development and the history of the international economy, a half day was devoted to a policy session, exploring ways in which economic history can provide lessons for today’s economic challenges.

More information on the Economic History Programme: