North’s NIEH as Global History

  • Matthijs Krul
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought book series (PHET)


This chapter studies Douglass North’s New Institutionalist Economic History as a contribution to our understanding of the ‘Great Divergence’: that is, the historical shift toward European (or Western) hegemony and the divergence between developed and underdeveloped nations. As Krul shows, North’s work is not solely meant as an analytical tool, but also carries implications for development economics and policy. These follow directly from the North’s analysis of the origins of Western hegemony. For North, the achievement of rich market societies was a rare breakthrough, involving a series of prerequisites that are profoundly difficult to reproduce for other nations. As Krul argues, North’s pessimism about improving institutions clashes markedly with his historical analysis of the rise of the West specifically and renders the latter unpersuasive.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthijs Krul
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Social AnthropologyBerlinGermany

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