North, Douglass Cecil, 1920–, American economic historian, b. Cambridge, Mass., Ph.D. Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1952. North has taught at the Univ. of Washington, Seattle (1950–83) and Washington Univ., St. Louis (1983–). In 1993 North shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science with Robert Fogel for their role in developing cliometrics—the use of economic theory and quantitative techniques to understand economic history; also known as new economic history—and for the increased understanding of process of economic change that their work enabled. North has studied early American economic growth, productivity in ocean shipping, and the role of institutions in economic development. More recently he has focused on understanding economic change through the prism of the cognitive and behavioral sciences. Among his works are The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790–1860 (1961), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (1990), Understanding the Process of Economic Change (2005).
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