'Whatever Is, Is Right'? Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)

39 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2007

See all articles by Sheilagh Ogilvie

Sheilagh Ogilvie

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

Institutions - the structures of rules and norms governing economic transactions - are widely assigned a central role in economic development. Yet economic history is still dominated by the belief that institutions arise and survive because they are economically efficient. This paper shows that alternative explanations of institutions - particularly those incorporating distributional effects - are consistent with economic theory and supported by empirical findings. Distributional conflicts provide a better explanation than efficiency for the core economic institutions of pre-industrial Europe - serfdom, the community, the craft guild, and the merchant guild. The paper concludes by proposing four desiderata for any future economic theory of institutions.

JEL Classification: N01, N43, O17, O43, P48

Suggested Citation

Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 'Whatever Is, Is Right'? Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006) (August 2007). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2066. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1004445

Sheilagh Ogilvie (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom
44-1223-335200 (Phone)
44-1223-335475 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/people/faculty/sco2

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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