Douglass North

Douglass North

  • Department of Economics, Washington University in St. Louis

Douglass C. North (November 5, 1920-November 23, 2015) was the co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. His major research interest was the evolution of economic and political institutions. His work in economic history and development emphasized the effects of institutions on the development of economies through time.

Dr. North authored more than fifty articles and eight books. Among his books are The Rise of the Western World (with R. P. Thomas, 2nd edition), 1973, Growth and Welfare in the American Past, 1973, Structure and Change in Economic History, 1981, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, 1990, and Understanding the Process of Economic Change, 2005. 

He was appointed Henry R. Luce Professor of Law and Liberty in the Department of Economics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis in 1983. He was elected a fellow of the British Academy and was installed as the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis in 1996. Dr. North's appointments at Washington University in St. Louis follow 33 years at the University of Washington at Seattle, where he was director of the Institute for Economic Research for five years and chairman for twelve years.  Previously, he was the Peterkin Professor of Political Economics at Rice University in the fall of 1979, Pitt Professor at Cambridge University in England in 1981-82, and a visiting fellow of the center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1987-88.

Dr. North was editor of the Journal of Economic History for five years and president of the Economic History Association in 1972. He was a twenty-year member of the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research until 1986. He was also professor of history and a fellow of the Center in Political Economy. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served as president of the Economic History Association and the Western Economic Association. In 1987, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. North received his BA in 1942 and his PhD in 1952 from the University of California at Berkeley. He also served as a U.S. Merchant Marine from 1942 to 1946 and was an instructor in celo-navigation from 1944 to 1946. An active scholar until his health started failing, Dr. North passed away in November 2015 at the age of 95.

Working Papers

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