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The Evolution of a Nation:
How Geography and Law Shaped the American States
Daniel Berkowitz & Karen B. Clay

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"The strength of The Evolution of a Nation lies in the collected historical and recent data. All these are sufficiently displayed on charts, graphs, appendices, which cover over eighty pages in the body of the book. The meticulously written introduction and overview provide a methodological model to those for ongoing research. Complying with the expectations of the authors, the book stands at the intersection between economics, history, law and politics and can be beneficial within the classroom setting of these disciplines at undergraduate and graduate levels. Furthermore, as it presents stimulating discussions and raises new questions about law, legal intuitions, economic growth, it can be a reference book for the years to come in historical and sociological studies."--N. Sibel Gu?zel, European Journal of American Studies


"In this book, Berkowitz and Clay make major contributions to understanding the nature of economic development. They do a superb job examining the evidence about the importance of geography, institutions, and laws in influencing the causes and consequences of state courts and legislatures from the colonial era up to today. Their approach and findings will become central to the ongoing study of economic growth."--Stanley L. Engerman, University of Rochester

"This remarkable book tackles one of the most important and yet underresearched topics in institutional economics: how institutions persist over time and the mechanisms via which they do so. Focusing on political competition and judicial independence across U.S. states, the book combines rich historical narrative with sophisticated social science and is a must-read for anyone with an interest in comparative institutional and economic development."--James Robinson, Harvard University

"Berkowitz and Clay not only produce convincing evidence of the effect of political competition and judicial independence on economic performance in American states. They also present a fascinating and comprehensive institutional history of the United States using the latest quantitative tools in the social sciences. A great piece of modern institutional and historical analysis."--Gerard Roland, University of California, Berkeley

"This book is the latest evidence suggesting that institutions have long lasting effects on the organization and performance of societies. Using the legal origins of American states, Berkowitz and Clay show that accidents of being colonized by a common or civil law power reverberate right up to the present day. Their results challenge those who believe that institutions are not important in economic history. They also challenge those who believe institutions are important to explain how, despite ongoing institutional change, patterns from the past continue to influence behavior in the present."--John Wallis, University of Maryland

"Berkowitz and Clay provide an imaginative integration of recent scholarship from a wide range of disciplines, including economics, political economy, economic geography, the theory of institutions, and law. The result is a fresh look at American history which emphasizes the persistence of institutions and the long-term implications of common law versus civil law traditions in the various colonies."--Barry Weingast, Stanford University

"This book is a tour de force on the persistent but often neglected influence of geography on the development of key political and legal institutions in the U.S. states. Along the way, it pulls off the seemingly impossible by opening up new lines of inquiry in not one but as many as four disciplines: law, economics, political science, and history."--Lee Epstein, University of Southern California

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File created: 4/24/2017

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