Douglass North

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Book Chapter

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Edward Elgar


Douglass C. North received his undergraduate and graduate training in economics (BA 1942; PhD 1952) from the University of California at Berkeley. His early research in economic history focused on the balance of payments, and led to his notable elaboration of an export-led model of US antebellum growth (North, 1961; see also Sutcl1, 1982). His 1966 textbook helped popularise a new approach to economic history: quantitatively orientated and explicitly informed by theory. This work is remarkable for its brevity (under 200 pages), and lack of attention to details of institutional or legal change that had been a feature of earlier (and bulkier) surveys. Paradoxically, while North stressed the dependence of economic growth on free market institutions, readers received little exposure to the details of the changing legal and regulatory environment that delineated such an evolving economy. His approach to institutions here can be usefully contrasted with the opening chapters of Hughes (1990), which recalled earlier traditions in its treatment of the American legal heritage from Europe, and its consequences.

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The Elgar Companion to Development Studies


David A. Clark