Selected Readings on the Importance of Markets

Basic literature about the relevance of markets, divided by topic:  Economics of Institutions, Global Economic History, American Economic History, History of Economic Thought, and Economic Philosophy.  Readings are selected to be accessible to a general audience that is motivated and interested in understanding new research in the social sciences. We prioritized books and broad articles rather than specialized texts, and we focused on selecting modern readings rather than the well-known classic texts.

Thomas Schelling (1960) Strategy of Conflict

Mancur Olson (1965) The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups

Ronald Coase (1988) The Firm, the market and the Law

Elinor Ostrom (1990) Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

Douglass North (1991) Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

Gary Miller (1992) Managerial Dilemmas: The Political Economy of Hierarchy

Oliver Williamson (1999) The Mechanisms of Governance

Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini (2003) The Economic Effects of Constitutions

Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore (20003) The Size of Nations

Samuel Bowles (2006) Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution

Avner Greif (2006) Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade

Douglass North, John Wallis, Barry Weingast (2009)  Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History   

Rachel McCleary and Robert Barro (2019) The Wealth of Religions: The Political Economy of Believing and Belonging


Douglass North and Robert Thomas (1973) The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History

Robert Ekelund Jr and Robert Tollison (1981) Mercantilism as a rent-seeking society: Economic regulation in historical perspective

Charles Kindleberger (1984) A Financial History of Western Europe

Lawrence White (1984) Free Banking in Britain: Theory, Experience, and Debate, 1800-1845

Nathan Rosenberg and Birdzell (1986) How the West Grew Rich, the economic transformation of the industrial world

Charles Goodhart (1988) The Evolution of Central Banks

John Brewer (1990) The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783

Joel Mokyr (1992) The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress

Jared Diamond (1998) Guns,  germs  and  steel:  a  short  history  of  everybody  for  the  last  13,000years

Kenneth Pomeranz (2001) The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

John Nyve (2007) War, Wine, and Taxes: The Political Economy of Anglo-French Trade, 1689-1900

Gregory Clark (2009) A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World    

Ronald Findlay and Kevin O'Rourke (2009) Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium

Robert Allen (2009) The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective

Steven Epstein (2009) An Economic and Social History of Later Medieval Europe, 1000-1500

Timur Kuran (2010) The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff (2011) Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions

Joel Mokyr (2012) The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850

Peter Temin (2012) The Roman Market Economy

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (2020): The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty


Lance Davis and Douglass North (1971) Institutional Change and American Economic Growth

John McCusker and Russel Menard (1991) The Economy of British America, 1607-1789

Jeremy Atack and Peter Passell (1994) A New Economic View of American History

Robert Fogel (1994) Without Consent or Contract

Philip D. Curtin (1998) The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex

Werner Troesken (2015) The Pox of Liberty: How the Constitution Left Americans Rich, Free, and Prone to Infection

Robert Gordon (2016) The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson (2016) Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700

Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode (2018) Cotton, slavery, and the new history of capitalism [in EHE]

Douglas Irwin (2017) Clashing over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy

Vera Smith (1936) The Rationale of Central Banking and the Free Banking Alternative

Joseph Schumpeter (1954) History of Economic Analysis

Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson  (2016) Early Economic Thought in Spain, 1177-1740

Scott Meikle (1995) Aristotle's Economic Thought

Mark Blaug (1997) Economic Theory in Retrospect

Joel Kaye (2000) Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century. Money, market exchange, and the emergence of scientific thought

Roy Weintraub (2002) How Economics Became a Mathematical Science

James R. Otteson (2002)  Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life

Arie Arnon (2011) Monetary Theory and Policy from Hume and Smith to Wicksell. Money, Credit and the Economy

Steven Medema (2011) The Hesitant Hand: Taming Self-Interest in the History of Economic Ideas

Lawrence White (2012) The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years

Till Duppe and Roy Weintraub (2014) Finding Equilibrium: Arrow, Debreu, McKenzie and the Problem of Scientific Credit

Ivan Moscati (2018) Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics


Bruce Caldwell (1982) Beyond Positivism: Economic Methodology in the Twentieth Century

Deirdrie McCloskey (1985) The Rhetoric of Economics

Amartya Sen (1987) On Ethics and Economics

Daniel Hausman (1992) The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics

Deirdrie McCloskey (2006) The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

Marcel Boumans and John Davis (2015) Economic Methodology: Understanding Economics as a Science

Vernon Smith (2017) Rationality in Economics: Constructivist and Ecological Forms

David Colander and Craig Freedman (2018) Where Economics Went Wrong: Chicago's Abandonment of Classical Liberalism

Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson (2019) Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century

Penn Readings