Einar Lie, “Economic History and Economic Theory”, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 33, 2007, article 2


“Can economic history manage without economic theory? And can economic theory get along without economic history? These are the two questions that will be addressed here. If we look at what the situation is actually like in both the Norwegian and international research communities today, the basic outline of an answer becomes quite evident: Economic history is strongly and quite significantly influenced by economic theory, and there is little reason to believe that the discipline will be able to manage gracefully without economic theory in the future.

But this dependence is not mutual. Economic theory has, at least over the last two research generations, received rather limited input from economic history. Most academic economists have little exposure to economic history, and I do not think this is seen as a pressing problem among practitioners of the economics profession. Nevertheless, I believe that many economists would benefit from studying more economic history. I will come back to this in my conclusion, after taking a closer look at the relationship between economic theory and economic history as it has developed over time.”

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