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Understanding the Process of Economic Change (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) Paperback – May 9, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: The Princeton Economic History of the Western World
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (May 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691145954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691145952
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having attended several lectures by Dr. North I know him to be a brilliant man, but not the most engaging communicator.

This book has a small summation of several important ideas of the role of uncertainty and technological change, and how economic actors move to adapt to these. Nothing could be more topical these days. Unfortunately, I find the writing unnecessarily dense and even the simplest issues are treated in a verbose manner. I always love reading Hayek, Friedman, Mandelbrot and so many others; but despite my great interest in the subject reading this book was a chore.

Only for the technical experts or very motivated enthusiasts.
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Format: Hardcover
North starts his book out emphasizing the important role played in economic development by the uncertainty of the future that impacts the decision makers whose actions will create technological and institutional change over time.This uncertainty is the uncertainty emphasized by Schumpeter,Keynes,Knight,Ellsberg,and Mandelbrot( or mild risk versus wild risk),as opposed to the risk emphasized by neoclassical economics in the form of the standard deviation of a normal probability distribution.Throughout the book North correctly emphasizes uncertainty and not risk as being the environment in which decision makers make choices that will determine future economic growth and change.Unfortunately,North devotes only one small paragraph on p.13 to this vital distinction(uncertainty versus risk).North needs to have spent much more time and pages carefully covering this distinction since it is crucial to understanding the process of economic change .North needs to provide the reader with at least two chapters devoted to covering the risk versus uncertainty topic.The only readers who will benefit from this book would be readers who have already read the relevant works of Knight ,Keynes,Schumpeter,Ellsberg,and Mandelbrot that deal with this topic.I would recommend that a potential reader first cover chapters 7 and 8 of Knight's 1921 book,Risk,Uncertainty and Profit ,and then read chapter 7 on the business cycle from Schumpeter's 1912 book The Theory of Economic Development.North needs to substantially revise the book .His preliminary chapter on cognitive psychology can be filled out more completely once he has added the chapters on uncertainty and its impact on the irreversible nature of investment in long run,long lived, physical,durable capital goods which is " cast in concrete " and essentially irrevocable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent - do not be put off by the dense language. North takes economics out of it's box and places is in a much broader context, including culture, belief systems, values and cognitive factors which are outside the comfort zone of many economists, regulators and politicians. It's not light reading, but as with all North's works, the concepts are relevant on many levels. Highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a summary of Nobel Laureate North's work towards a theory of economic change. It is still an ongoing quest, and his thinking might not have been appreciated enough in economic circles because he throws a wider net across concepts of social sciences (e. g. beliefs). That's why he is a Nobel Laureate and economics a science falling short in so many regards. Highly recommended his later co-authored 'Violence and social order', which provides an excellent framework to think about (institutional) development.
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