Suggestions Welcome from Clever People

Good afternoon one and all,

I have an essay due in 3 weeks which is actually assessed, any contribution of ideas, inspiration, theories and papers on the below topic is welcome.

How did institutional conditions shape farmers’ ability to produce for the market in the nineteenth century world? Answer with reference to at least two examples

My readings are below the fold, followed by a skeletal essay plan.


  Bibliographic details Links / Lib. cat.  
D. Acemoglu and S. Johnson, Unbundling Institutions”, NBER Working Paper No. 9934 (2003) Link to article
P. Bardhan, ‘Institutions Matter, but Which Ones?’, Economics of Transition (2005), 499-532 Link to article
E. Glaeser, R. La Porta, F. Lopez-de-Silanes & A. Shleifer, ‘Do Institutions Cause Growth?’, Journal of Economic Growth (2004), 271-303 Link to article
R. Levine, ‘Law, Endowments, and Property Rights’, NBER Working Paper No. 11502 (2005) Link to article
D. North, ‘Epilogue: Economic Performance through Time’, in L. Alston, T. Eggerston and D. North (eds.), Empirical Studies in Institutional Change (1996) HB99.5 E51
J. Sachs, ‘Institutions Matter, but not for Everything’, Finance and Development (2003), 38-41. Link to article
S. Ogilvie, ‘Whatever is, is right’? Economic institutions in pre-industrial Europe’, Economic History Review (2007), 649-684. Link to article
J. Aron, Growth and Institutions: A Review of the Evidence (2000), World Bank Research Observer 15. 99-135. Link to article
P. Bardhan, ‘Institutions matter, but which ones?’, Economics of Transition, 13: 3 (2005), 499-532. Link to article
R. Bates, ‘Social dilemmas and rational individuals: an assessment of the new institutionalism’, in J. Harriss, J. Hunter & C.M. Lewis (eds), The New Institutional Economics and Third World Development (1995), 27-48. Link to epackCC: HB99.5 N53 CP
A. Grief, Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy (2006), 1-53 and 379-407. HF395 G82
E. Helpman, ‘Institutions and politics’, ch. 7 in his The Mystery of Economic Growth (2004). Link to epackCC: HD82 H48 CP
D. North, ‘Prologue’, to J. Drobak & J. Nye (eds), The Frontiers of the New Institutional Economics (1997), 3-12. Link to epackCC: HM99.5 F93. CP
Acemoglu, S. Johnson & J. Robinson, ‘Institutions as the fundamental cause of long-run growth’, in P. Aghion & S. Dulauf (eds), Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 1A (2005). (CC: or download from NBER or authors’ webpages). Paper
D. Acemoglu, S. Johnson & J. Robinson, ‘Reversal of Fortune: geography and institutions in the making of the modern world income distribution’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118 (Nov 2002), 1231-79 Paper
G. Austin, Labour, Land and Capital in Ghana (2005), esp. 27-33, 236-49, 431-51. CC: HC1060.Z7 A93. HC1060.Z7 A93
G.M. Hodgson, ‘The Approach of Institutional Economics, Journal of Economic Literature 36, 1 (1998). 166-92. Link to article
A. Carlos and S. Nicholas, ‘Agency Problems in Early Chartered Companies: the Case of the Hudson’s Bay Company’, Journal of Economic History, 50 (1990), 853-75. Link to article
R. Rogowski, ‘Structure, growth and power: three rationalist accounts’, in R. Bates (ed), Toward a Political Economy of Development: a Rational Choice Perspective (1988), 300-330.  (reprinted from International Organization, vol. 37 [1983]). CC: HC59.7 T73
K. Sokoloff & S. Engerman, ‘Institutions, factor endowments, and paths of development in the New World’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 14: 3 (2000), pp. 217-32 Paper
S. Engerman, and K. Sokoloff, ‘Factor endowments, institutions, and differential patterns of growth among New World economies’ in S. Haber (ed.), How Latin America Fell Behind (1997), 260-304.
D. Feeny, ‘The decline of property rights in man in Thailand, 1800-1913’, Journal of Economic History, 49 (1989), 285-96. Link to article
R. Grabowski, ‘The theory of induced institutional innovation: A critique’, World Development, 16: 3 (1988), 385-94. . Link to article
A.Greif, Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade (2006), esp. 3-90, 379-405. CC: HF395 G82.
(Or see his ‘Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders’, Journal of Economic History, 49 (1989), 857-882; and ‘Contracting, enforcement and efficiency: economics beyond the law’, Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics [1996], 239-65). Link to article
M. Harrison, ‘Coercion, Compliance, and the Collapse of the Soviet Command Economy’, Economic History Review, 55 (2002), 397-433. Link to article
D. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (1990). . (A short book, worth skimming or reading rapidly through, reading in more detail where you find it most interesting). CC: HB99.5 N86
D. North, Understanding the Process of Economic Change (Princeton UP, 2005).  (Another short book, worth skimming at least). CC: HB97.3.

 Agriculture: Production, Markets and Institutions

Bibliographic details Links / Lib. cat.
D. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998), ch.1 HC240.Z9 W45 L25
T. Roy, The Economic History of India, 1857-1947 (2006), ch. 4. HC435 R88
F.B. Tipton, The Rise of Asia (1998), ch.3 HC460.5 T59
G.M. Walton & H. Rockoff, History of the American Economy (1990), ch. 15, 298-321. HC103 R65

Agriculture and Industrialization

Bibliographic details Links / Lib. cat. 
C. Earle & R. Hoffman, ‘The Foundation of the Modern Economy: Agriculture and the Costs of Labour in the US and England 1800-60’, American Historical Review 85, 5 (1980) Link to article
P. Francks, ‘Japan and an East Asian Model of Agriculture’s Role in Industrialisation’, Japan Forum12, 2000 Link to article
E.L. Jones & S.J. Woolf, Agrarian Change and Economic Development: the Historical Problem (1969), ch. 1, 1-21 HD1411 A27
P. Mathias & J. Davis (eds.), Agriculture and Industrialization (1996) HC51 A27
J. Mellor (ed.), Agriculture on the Road to Industrialization (1995), chs.1, 11 (Introduction and conclusion) HD1417 A27
S. Mundle, ‘The Agrarian Barrier to Industrial Growth’, Journal of Development Studies 22, 1985 Link to article

 Primary Products and International Trade 

 Bibliographic details Links / Lib. cat. 
B. Albert, South America and the World Economy from Independence to 1930 (1983) HC125 A33
J.M. Critz, ‘”Horn of Plenty”: the Globalization of Mediterranean Horticulture and the Economic Development of Southern Europe, 1880-1930’, Journal of Economic History 59, 2, 1999 Link to article
A. Deaton, ‘Commodity Prices and Growth in Africa’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 13, 3, 1999 Link to article
D. Rothermund, The Global Impact of the Great Depression (1996), ch.4 HB3717 R84

 The Geography of Industrial Pre-Eminence

Bibliographic details Links / Lib. cat. 
A. Chandler, Scale and Scope (1990) ch. 3-6. HD2785 C45
N. Crafts and A. Venables, ‘Globalization in History: a Geographical Perspective’, CEPR Discussion Paper 3079 (2001) Link to article
S. Engerman and K. Sokoloff, ‘Factor Endowments, Institutions and Differential Paths of Growth among New World Economies’, in S. Haber (ed.), How Latin America Fell Behind (1997) HC187 H84
D. Meyer, ‘The Emergence of the American Manufacturing Belt: an Interpretation’, Journal of Historical Geography (1983), 145-174. Link to article
R. Nelson and G. Wright, ‘The Rise and Fall of American Technological Leadership: the Postwar Era in Historical Perspective’, Journal of Economic Literature (1992) 1931-1964. Link to article

How did institutional conditions shape farmers’ ability to produce for the market in the nineteenth century world? Answer with reference to at least two examples


  • What is the question asking?
  • How does it relate to wider debates? Prebisch/ Singer/ Lewis/ Comparative Advantage/ Divergence, Big Time/ New Institutional Economics/ Geographic Determinism/ Relative Factor Prices
  • Explain how the essay will answer the question, including the essay’s structure.
  • Describe why the examples to be studied have been chosen.


  • Explain institutions in general with reference to theoretical literature.
  • Briefly and informally describe the institutions of the nineteenth century. Treat “History as one damn thing after another.”
  • Formally define how the institutions should affect the incentives of farmers with reference to production for the market. Introduce this as a testable hypothesis which the essay will address


  • Depending on formal institutional structure and the theories to be tested, introduce desired number of examples.
  • Use examples to illustrate how institutions shaped farmers’ incentives.
  • Use incentive structure to describe farmers’ ability to explain for the market in the nineteenth century.
  • Introduce competing explanations for farmers’ behaviour. Geography, Factor Endowments, Relative Prices
  • Relate to wider debate.
  • Explain why examples are representative, explain why they are not.


  • Explain how the essay has addressed the question.
  • Relate essay to wider debates on primary products, industrialisation, development, divergence vs convergence, NIE