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« Roland Fryer on Education, Inequality and Incentives | Main | Can We Talk About A Coherent Chicago School of Economics That Is Still Relevant Today? »


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I love the detail that Mokyr brings to his work. McCloskey quotes him a lot. His detail reminds some of Braudel. But overwhelming a reader or listener with details doesn't hide the fact that he is long on what happened and short on "why?"

Essentially, he said Europe "stumbled" upon the right institutions. Of course that is part of his evolutionary paradigm: happy accidents happen. I have never thought that was a good explanation.

What people want to know is why did fortuitous evolution happen in Western Europe and not in the technologically advanced China and Ottoman Empire? And why has the rest of the world refused to imitate the West for so long.

Why do economic historians ignore the statement of Alfred Whitehead that Christian reason made the difference? Also, Rodney Stark of Baylor has made some contributions.

But I think economic history has to address the issue of individualism brought up by Geert Hofstede. Nothing divides the world into developed and not as much as individualism. And the best explanation for the rise of individualism in the West is "Inventing the Individual" by Larry Seidentop of Cambridge.

The flip side of individualism is envy and I can't see how economic historians can ignore Schoeck's "Envy: A theory of social behavior." Envy keeps individualism, and development, in chains.

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