Economic History at MIT

MIT has produced some influential economic historians over the years, e.g.s. Walt Rostow, Charles Kindleberger, and Peter Temin. However, after Temin's retirement and Dora Costa's move to California, there are no economic historians at MIT and graduate students no longer receive instruction in economic history. Click here to read Peter Temin's view of the rise and fall of economic history at MIT (hat tip - Graham Brownlow). Notably, this story has parallels in the wider economics profession. 

As the ongoing crisis demonstrates, the fall of economic history has been detrimental to economics and economic policy. Why did economic history fall? One possibility is that economic history stopped doing what economic historians are good at - explaining for us the long-run patterns and trends in the economy. Another possibility is that economic history did not fit neatly into the mathematical and 'scientific' turn which economics took in the 1940s. Yet another possibility is that economics became more ideological and economic history properly studied undermined the new ideology. As a result, it was sidelined.     

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