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Paul Romer: The view from economic history

The Long Run

by Nuno Palma (University of Manchester and CEPR). Republished with minor adjustments from the blog “Economic Growth in History”

In this post I write about the connections between Paul Romer’s work, which is essentially applied theory, and the empirical work on long-run economic growth done by economic historians. How was Romer influenced by the work of economic historians? has he influenced economic history? and have his theories been confirmed by the recent work of economic historians? (preview: I will argue that the answers are: yes; not much; and no). Nevertheless, my point above is not that Romer is wrong in general; in fact some of his ideas *about ideas* are fundamental for us to think about growth in the past (read on if this isn’t clear yet.)

449px-Paul_Romer_in_2005 Paul Romer in 2005. Wikimedia Commons

Paul Romer’s was a well-deserved and long-anticipated prize. Many predicted he would eventually win, including myself in my very…

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