2017 Annual Meeting

Chicago IL
January 6 – 8

The 2017 Annual Meeting was held in Chicago, IL (January 6-8, 2017 - Friday, Saturday, & Sunday). View Photos from the meeting.

Webcasts from selected AEA sessions and AEA Poster Presenter Videos are available, compliments of the AEA.

Saturday, January 7

Cliometrics in Historical Perspective: In Remembrance of Robert Fogel and Douglass North (N0, B0)

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Crystal A
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Claudia Goldin, Harvard University and NBER
  • Paper title: A Cliometric Counterfactual: What If There Had Been Neither Fogel nor North?
  • Keywords: Cliometrics
  • Abstract: Using the counterfactual model pioneered by Robert Fogel in his famous railroad study, we look at the development of the cliometric movement. In this research the counterfactual is that Nobel laureates Robert Fogel and Douglass North were not contributors to the economics literature. How would cliometrics, which predates the contributions of Fogel and North, have developed without their contributions? The use of the counterfactual in this case provides a unique method of measuring their contributions to the discipline of economic history.
  • Paper title: Douglass North, Cliometrics, and the New Institutional Economics: Continuity or Divergence?
  • Keywords: Cliometrics
  • Abstract: Douglass North spent his career seeking to understand why some countries are rich and some poor. He was one of the founders of Cliometrics, which applies Neo-classical theory to history as a means of hypothesis testing. This entailed first measurement, and then testing. Early in his career North devoted himself and encouraged his students to better measure the performance of the overall economy. The Cliometric agenda was very much inspired by Simon Kuznets. North did not engage in formal testing, but sought to explain patterns in the data. The early North firmly believed that relative prices of labor/capital/land drove productivity and growth. By the late 1960s he found the proximate causes of growth, i.e., technology or capital, to be insufficient in explaining development. Inspired by Coase, he sought the explanation in property rights and institutions as the fundamental cause, initially applying a relative price approach to the determinants of institutions. When this proved insufficient he moved on, seeking answers from the other social sciences, including cognitive science. It was this searching process that led to the foundation of the New Institutional Economics. North never abandoned Neo-classical theory, but continually modified and added to it. The evolution of his approach to economic growth is the story of the new institutional economics; a story that reflects the metamorphosis of North’s thinking, his impact on the discipline, and the changes in direction that he pioneered.
  • Paper title: What Fogel and North Got (Spectacularly) Right, and What They Got (Modestly) Wrong
  • Keywords: Cliometrics