Economic History: ‘An Isthmus Joining Two Great Continents’?

53 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2020

See all articles by Cormac O'Grada

Cormac O'Grada

University College Dublin (UCD)

Date Written: January 13, 2020


This paper offers (yet another) reflection on the history and current status of economic history. No other sub-discipline of economics or history has tried so hard to be loved as economic history. That love is unrequited, because economic history’s problem is existential: it is an inherently interdisciplinary field. Economists and historians are interested in only small parts of what economic history should embrace. Some examples are given of how narrow views of the past the impoverish research. Not all is gloom and doom, however. The controversies economic history provokes and the insights it provides touch on issues that resonate and that will continue to do so.

Keywords: Economic History, Cliometrics

JEL Classification: N0

Suggested Citation

O'Grada, Cormac, Economic History: ‘An Isthmus Joining Two Great Continents’? (January 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Cormac O'Grada (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Dublin 4, 4

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