Economic History

Study Board of Market and Management Anthropology, Economics, Mathematics-Economics, Environmental and Resource Management

Teaching language: English
EKA: B540039112, B540039102
Censorship: Second examiner: None, Second examiner: External
Grading: 7-point grading scale
Offered in: Odense
Offered in: Spring
Level: Bachelor

Course ID: B540039101
ECTS value: 10

Date of Approval: 06-10-2020


Duration: 1 semester

Course ID

B540039101

Course Title

Economic History

Teaching language

English

ECTS value

10

Responsible study board

Study Board of Market and Management Anthropology, Economics, Mathematics-Economics, Environmental and Resource Management

Date of Approval

06-10-2020

Course Responsible

Name Email Department
Paul Richard Sharp pauls@sam.sdu.dk Institut for Virksomhedsledelse og Økonomi

Offered in

Odense

Level

Bachelor

Offered in

Spring

Duration

1 semester

Recommended prerequisites

Corresponding to the first year bachelor in economics.

Aim and purpose

Economic history is seen today at a key part of the economist’s education and toolkit. This course will equip students with a basic understanding of the main topics in economic and business history, in particular through examples taken from the economic history of Europe, supplemented with a more detailed understanding of Danish development.

Economic history is today largely the domain of applied economists. Economists can learn from the methods of the humanities including source criticism, and historical narratives can usefully be complemented by rigorous theoretical and econometric analysis. Combining these allows us to answer some of the big questions of the past and today. A few examples can illustrate this:

  1. Economic history teaches us that it is not possible to understand why some countries are poor and others rich without first understanding that the levels of prosperity we enjoy in the most developed parts of the world are something of a historical anomaly – for most of human history all countries were poor.
  2. Economic history can explain how current concerns about the limits to economic growth are nothing new. We will for example explore the role of resource constraints in history.
  3. Economic history teaches us the regularity of banking and financial crises such as the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2007/8, as well as how we can (and cannot) combat them.
  4. Economic history provides lessons from past epidemics and pandemics, and the measures that have been taken: what worked, and what did not work.

In sum, economic history describes how economies have developed over time, and how economic theory and methodology can help us understand and explain this. We will also cover some lessons from business history, which teaches how firms have developed over time, and how ‘the firm’ has interacted with the evolution of economic, technological and political systems.

The course is a precondition for students wish to follow further courses involving economic history, including several graduate courses at SDU. It will also help students to incorporate historical understanding into their work with other branches of economics, as well as provide important lessons for understanding how firms adapt to their environment.

UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
This course has an explicit focus on many of the 17 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which are now the focal point for SDU’s work as a university:

GOAL 1: No Poverty. We will explore what allowed poor countries to become rich.

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger. We will answer how hunger has been increasingly eliminated around the world.

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being. We will examine how health has contributed to economic development, and how to measure well-being beyond the usual GDP/capita statistic.

GOAL 4: Quality Education. We will show that education is key to economic development.

GOAL 5: Gender Equality. We will ask why women still often learn less than men, and consider whether this has always been the case.

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. We will see that improvements in living standards have owed much to improvements in sanitation.

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. We will investigate the role of energy for industrialization and development more widely.

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. We will explain the origins of economic growth.

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: We will discuss the nature of innovation and where it comes from.

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality. We will explore inequality in a number of dimensions, for example within and between countries, and between races and genders.

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. We will demonstrate how sustainability is difficult to define, but has been a concern since the beginnings of economics.

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. We will show how economic development can lead to concerns about excess consumption.

GOAL 13: Climate Action. We will consider the impact of climate change on historical development.

GOAL 14: Life Below Water. This relates to the impact economic growth can have on the environment.

GOAL 15: Life on Land. This again relates to the impact economic growth can have on the environment.

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions. Institutions are another fundamental element behind development, which economic history has traditionally had a strong focus on.

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal. You will understand how it is not possible to view goals in isolation, and in general the complexity of the real world!

Content

The Emergence of Civilization
  • The preconditions for civilization: agriculture and cities.
  • The birth of European civilization.
  • Technological progress in Antiquity.
  • What caused the decline of the Roman Empire?
The Pre-industrial World
  • Competing views of pre-industrial growth: Malthus vs. Smith.
  • Population, economic growth and resource constraints.
  • The demographic transition.
  • Measurement issues.
Institutions and Growth
  • Institutions and efficiency.
  • Market performance in history.
  • The evolution of labour markets.
  • Co-operatives.
  • Contracts.
Knowledge, Technology Transfer and Convergence
  • The industrial revolution.
  • Technology transfer and catch-up.
Money, Credit and Banking
  • The origins of money.
  • The emergence of paper money.
  • The impact of banks on economic growth.
Trade, Tariffs and Growth
  • The comparative advantage argument for free trade.
  • Trade patterns in history.
  • Trade policy and growth.
International Monetary Regimes in History
  • Why is an international monetary regime necessary?
  • Lessons from history for today.
The Era of Political Economy
  • The long farewell to economic orthodoxy.
  • Successes and failures of macroeconomic management in the second half of the twentieth century.
  • Socialist economies.
  • The welfare state.
Inequality Among and Within Nations
  • Why is there inequality?
  • Measuring inequality.
  • Gender inequality.
  • World income distribution.
Globalization and its Challenge to Europe
  • Globalization and the law of one price.
  • What drives globalization?
  • Globalization backlash!
Business History
  • The company between the preindustrial era and the First Industrial Revolution.
  • The birth and consolidation of big business.
  • State and market in the interwar period.
  • From World War Two to the Third Industrial Revolution.
Finding and using historical data and sources
  • Where to find online and other published databases.
  • Where to find archival and other historical sources.
  • Using historical data and sources.
Danish Economic History
  • The Danish development story: How did Denmark become a rich country?

Learning goals

To fullfill the purpuse of the course, the student must be able to:

Description of outcome - Knowledge

  • Identify, explain, and reflect upon the main topics within economic and business history, with particular reference to the European experience
  • Explain and reflect upon different explanations for classical, pre-industrial and modern growth, including demography, institutions, knowledge, and technology
  • Explain and reflect upon the economic history of money
  • Describe and identify the main developments in the history of trade
  • Describe and identify the main international monetary regimes in history
  • Describe the changes in inequality over time, and explain how to measure this
  • Describe and reflect upon the history of globalization and the challenges it presents
  • Describe and reflect upon the evolution of the firm
  • Describe and reflect upon some main developments within Danish economic history

Description of outcome - Skills

  • Use simple data methods to analyse historical data
  • Apply economic theory as it relates to economic and business history
  • Present and summarize academic work (for example journal articles) relating to economic history

Description of outcome - Competences

  • Independently apply models and theories related to economic and business history
  • Identify a need for further development of the models and theories related to economic and business history

Literature

Examples:
Persson, K.G. and P. Sharp (2015), “An Economic History of Europe: Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, 600 to the Present”, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press [and online material on the book’s website].
N.B. The textbook will be supplemented with material prepared for the forthcoming 3rd edition.

In addition:
Allen, R. C. (2011). “Global economic history: a very short introduction”. Oxford University Press.
Lampe, M., and Sharp, P. (2018). “A land of milk and butter: how elites created the modern Danish dairy industry”. University of Chicago Press.

As well as other relevant articles and book chapters.

Teaching Method

There will be 30 lectures of 2 hours each during which the required reading will be presented. Students are expected to have read the reading material before they come to class. 
The lectures will be supplemented by exercise classes which will allow the students to go into depth with certain topics from the lectures through simple exercises and class discussions.

In addition to the lectures, students will be asked to write a 5-page term paper on a topic relating to the curriculum, and where it will be possible to incorporate other relevant material, such as journal articles. Some of the lectures will be devoted to helping with the preparation of the term paper.

Workload

Scheduled classes:
4 (2x2) lectures weekly for 15 weeks.
2 (1x2) exercise classes weekly for 14 weeks (starts the week after the first lecture).

Workload:
The students' workload is expected to be distributed as follows:
Lectures - 60 hours
Exercises – 28 hours
Preparation for lectures – 90 hours
Preparation for exercises – 62 hours
Compulsory term paper - 30 hours
Total 270 hours.

Examination regulations

Exam

Name

Exam

Timing

Part 1
Exam: During the semester
Reexam: August


Part 2
Exam: June
Reexam: August

Tests

Part 1

Name

Part 1

Form of examination

Home assignment

Censorship

Second examiner: None

Grading

7-point grading scale

Identification

Student Identification Card - Date of birth

Language

English

Duration

During the semester.

Length

5 pages.

Assignment handin

Electronic hand-in via Digital Exam.

ECTS value

2

Additional information

Term paper to be written towards the end of the semester.

Re-examination

Form of examination

Oral exam

Identification

Student Identification Card - Date of birth

Duration

20 minutes.

Additional information

Re-exam is a 20-minute oral exam with no preparation.

EKA

B540039112

Part 2

Name

Part 2

Form of examination

Written in situ exam

Censorship

Second examiner: External

Grading

7-point grading scale

Identification

Student Identification Card - Exam number

Language

English

Duration

4 hours.

Examination aids

All aids allowed.

Assignment handover

The assignment is handed over in Digital Exam.

Assignment handin

Electronic hand-in via Digital Exam.

ECTS value

8

Additional information

4 hour written exam with aids.

Re-examination

Form of examination

Oral exam

Identification

Student Identification Card - Date of birth

Duration

20 minutes.

Additional information

Re-exam is a 20-minute oral exam with no preparation time covering the whole curriculum.

EKA

B540039102

Courses offered

Period Offer type Profile Programme Semester

Teachers

Name Email Department City
Paul Richard Sharp pauls@sam.sdu.dk Institut for Virksomhedsledelse og Økonomi Odense

Student teachers

Name Email Department City
Rasmus Holm Struve rastr17@student.sdu.dk Odense

URL for MySchedule