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Douglass Cecil NORTH


Douglass Cecil North is an American economist known for his work in economic history. He is the co-recipient (with Robert William Fogel) of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In the words of the Nobel Committee, North and Fogel were awarded the prize "for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change."


NORTH, Douglass Cecil was born in 1920 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.


North went to elementary school in Ottawa, and then to a private secondary school. When he moved back to the United States in 1933, he went to private schools in New York City and on Long Island, and then completed his high school education at the Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut. While he was there he became deeply interested in photography, and indeed the most noteworthy event in his early life was winning first, third, fourth and seventh prizes in an international competition for college and high school students.

He was accepted at Harvard at the same time that his father became the head of MetLife on the west coast, so North opted to go to University of California, Berkeley. In 1942, he graduated with a B.A. in General Curriculum-Humanities. Although his grades amounted to slightly better than a "C" average, he managed to complete a triple major in political science, philosophy and economics.


Graduate Teaching Fellow, University California Berkeley, 1946-1949. Professor of Economics, Director, Chairman, Institute, Institution Economics Research, University Washington, 1950-1961,

6, 1967-1969. Peterkin Professor Polit Economics, Rice University, Houston, Texas, 1979.

Pitt Professor, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1981-1982. Henry R. Luce Professor Law and Liberty, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, United States of America, since 1982. Co-editor, Journal of Economic History, 1960-1966.


  • Board of Directors, National Bureau of Economie Research, New York, New York, United States of America, since 1967. Board Trustees, Economics Institute, Institution, 1968, 1971, 1978. President, Economie History Association, USA,

    Visiting Association Director, Centre de Recherche Historique, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1973. President, Western Economic Association, USA 1975-1976.



Discussion of the increase in transactions costs in the United States (resources devoted to political and economic organisation) reflected in the growth of government and the parallel institutional and market responses.

Development of a model of the growth of the American economy from 1790- 1860. Discussion of the usefulness of applying simple neoclassical theory to problems in American economic history. And development of a general model of institutional change, and its application to the economic history of the Western world.

Empirical contributions have included development of the balance of payments from 1790-1860. The export/ import price indices of the United States from 1790-1860. And an index of the productivity of ocean shipping from 1600-1914.


colleague, friend:
Ronald Harry Coase - United States - economist

foundation of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics

colleague, friend:
Oliver Eaton Williamson - United States - economist

foundation of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics