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In this chapter, we define what historical political economy (HPE) is and is not, classify the major themes in the literature, assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the literature, and point to future directions. We view HPE as social scientific inquiry which highlights political causes or consequences of historical issues. HPE is different from conventional political economy in the emphasis placed on historical processes and context. While we view HPE in the most inclusive manner reasonable, we define it to exclude works that are either solely of contemporary importance or use historical data without any historical context (e.g., long-run macroeconomic time series data). The future of HPE is bright, especially as more historical data from around the world become available via digitization. Consequently, the future frontier of the field likely falls outside of the US, which is the concern of a disproportionate amount of the current literature.


ESI Working Paper 22-14



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