A review of Historical Dynamics in Economics of Transition

Paul Seabright Economics of Transition December 1, 2004 PDF


This fascinating and ambitious book presents a number of attempts to quantify and test theories of the growth and decline of political organizations over a time-span of many centuries. The author’s ambition is to show that a rigourous quantitative theory of historical dynamics is possible—he calls it ‘cliodynamics’. This involves expressing the underlying relationships in the form of differential equations and testing predictions against various kinds of historical data. Though the underlying philosophy is a little less novel than the author recognizes—quantitative macroeconomics with political and institutional variables is becoming increasingly fashionable—the book is rich in applications of the approach and full of illuminating historical material…
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