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