This paper summarizes Robert W. Fogel’s contribution to bridging the gap between Economics and Economic History by emphasizing the theory-oriented and quantitative thinking in Studying Economic History. The paper also highlighted three main contributions by Fogel, namely, the study of transportation and economic growth, the economics of slavery, and nutrition and the standard of living.
What is different in Fogel’s methodology?
- “… theory of some kind is implicit in all history, and that the best history like the best economics, specifies the underlying model so that its logical consistency can be checked, its cirtical assumptions identified, and its central propositions tested.”
- He establised and defended the quantification and statistical testing in economic history;
- He pioneered the use of “large-scale cross-sectional and longitudinal data sets culled from historical sources … to answer questions of current policy interest and of historical relevance”;
- His work epitomizes another of the distinguishing characteristics of cliometrics: it is “policy-oriented” …
I am very impressed by Fogel’s courage of challenging more qualitative and empirical research results and campaign his challenge with theoretical thinking plus quantitative analysis.