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The long-term evolution of economic history: evidence from the top five field journals (1927–2017)

  • Martina Cioni
  • Giovanni Federico
  • Michelangelo VastaEmail author
Original Paper


The growing appeal of the long-run perspective among economists and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Conrad and Meyer article (1958), which marked the official beginning of the Cliometric Revolution, have attracted a lot of interest on economic history. This paper explores the long-term development of economic history by analysing all the 6516 articles published in the top five international journals (Economic History Review, Journal of Economic History, Explorations in Economic History, European Review of Economic History and Cliometrica). Our main results are that the Cliometric Revolution took quite a long time to fully display its effects. We show that the conventional wisdom on the current state of the discipline seems a bit too optimistic. Economic history does not seem to be neither more comparative nor more focussed on peripheral countries. The historical periods studied do not change considerably, and the relevance of different topics did not change univocally. Most articles use some econometrics but only a minority feature advanced techniques. Economic history is indeed becoming more democratic, but its boundaries remain limited to the most advanced countries. Articles by authors from Continental Europe increased substantially, while that of North American declined. This change may be the harbinger of a new divergence between the two shores of the Atlantic, possibly related to the rise of a new paradigm, but it is too early to tell.


Economic History Cliometric Revolution Top Journal in Economic History 

JEL Classification




We would like to thank Valeria Battisti, Giulia Cecchetti, Paolo Jonica Nova, Enrico Minnella, Valentina Nanni, Valentina Savelli, Andrea Severini, Federico Terzi, Francesco Tonen, Valeria Vitale, Giorgia Vitucci, Nicolò Zavarise and, particularly, Alberto Montesi, Sara Pecchioli and Stefano Susini for research assistance. We are grateful to Alberto Baccini, Lucio Barabesi, Sara Franceschi, Alessandro Nuvolari, Tiziano Razzolini and Marco Savioli for helpful comments and suggestions. Special thanks are due to Ralph L. Andreano, Larry Neal and Jeffrey Williamson for their useful information. A previous version of this paper has benefited from the comments of all participants at the 8th edition of the EH/tune Workshop held in Siena in November 2018 and at the Riccardo Faini CEIS seminars held in Rome (Tor Vergata) in March 2019. Last but not least, we wish to thank the editor Claude Diebolt and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments. The usual disclaimer applies.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29087 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.University of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3. NYU Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  4. 4.CEPRLondonUK

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