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Economic history

We draw lessons from the success stories of economic development in the past for policymakers today

Our research seeks to explain comparative long-run growth performance. A significant part of our work has been to build on and extend existing data to understand the reasons for growth performance over time. Since the beginning of CAGE, we have developed substantial new data and analysis on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Britain between 1270 and 1870. We have also put together and researched regional GDP data across Europe, enabling economists to better understand how modern economies have developed over time.

We use historical analysis to inform debate about economic challenges in the contemporary world. Our research often looks back over longer periods than most policymakers normally take into consideration. As such, we have drawn out new lessons for modern governments. For example, we have highlighted lessons from the financial crisis of the 1930s to inform policymakers how they should respond to the 2008 banking crash; uncovered the long term effect of forced migration on educational attainment; and investigated market potential and global growth over the long twentieth century. We have also contributed to a 45 year project on the Industrialisation of the Soviet Union (1929-39).

Theme leaders

Picture of Stephen Broadberry
Stephen Broadberry

Stephen is Professor of Economic History at Nuffield College, Oxford.

Picture of James Fenske
James Fenske

James is Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick.

Current and future research

CAGE Global Economic History Database: we are developing a website to host the data we have developed and compiled over the past ten years. In addition to our extensive datasets on British and European GDP, the site will also host Indian Census data, Indian firm level data and data on trade. Users will be able to download the datasets, look at our data visualisations, and learn more about our findings. The site will be a significant resource for economic historians and economists alike.

Research Highlights

Stereotypes in highstakes decisions: Evidence from U.S Circuit Courts, Elliott Ash, Daniel Chen, Arianna Ornaghi, working paper, 2020


10 years of policy-driven economic history research

Sascha Becker, Professor of Economics at Monash and Warwick, provides an overview of our research highlights.

GrowthChat Podcast

A chat on the journey of humankind with CAGE associate Sascha O. Becker (Monash and University of Warwick) and Marco Lecci (Monash).

Listen here