The long-term evolution of economic history: evidence from the top five field journals (1927–2017)

Martina Cioni, Giovanni Federico, Michelangelo Vasta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing appeal of the long-run perspective among economists and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Conrad and Meyer article (1958), which marked the official beginning of the Cliometric Revolution, have attracted a lot of interest on economic history. This paper explores the long-term development of economic history by analysing all the 6516 articles published in the top five international journals (Economic History Review, Journal of Economic History, Explorations in Economic History, European Review of Economic History and Cliometrica). Our main results are that the Cliometric Revolution took quite a long time to fully display its effects. We show that the conventional wisdom on the current state of the discipline seems a bit too optimistic. Economic history does not seem to be neither more comparative nor more focussed on peripheral countries. The historical periods studied do not change considerably, and the relevance of different topics did not change univocally. Most articles use some econometrics but only a minority feature advanced techniques. Economic history is indeed becoming more democratic, but its boundaries remain limited to the most advanced countries. Articles by authors from Continental Europe increased substantially, while that of North American declined. This change may be the harbinger of a new divergence between the two shores of the Atlantic, possibly related to the rise of a new paradigm, but it is too early to tell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Cliometric Revolution
  • Economic History
  • Top Journal in Economic History

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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