Douglass North, Nobel Prize-winning economics historian, dies at 95

Historians in the News
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Douglass North, a Nobel Prize-winning economic historian whose work analyzed the long-term development of Europe and the United States and the role institutions play in fostering growth, died Nov. 23 at his home in Benzonia, Mich. He was 95.

His death was announced by Washington University in St. Louis, where he was an emeritus professor of economics. No cause was provided.

Dr. North shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences with Robert W. Fogel, then of the University of Chicago. Both men were in the 1960s vanguard of a field known as cliometrics, which merges economic theory and the statistical analysis of hard numbers raked from the past; Clio is the muse of history in Greek mythology.

Dr. North focused on the role of institutions — the rules and conventions of a society, such as laws, property rights, insurance, politics and customs — in long-term economic development.

In a 1968 article, he argued that improved productivity in ocean shipping from 1600 to 1850 was owed more to organizational changes — the rise of international trade and the drop in piracy, which reduced insurance costs and the need for manpower and armament — than to technological innovations. ...




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