Avner Greif

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Avner Greif
Tel Aviv
NationalityIsrael and USA
InstitutionStanford University
FieldEconomic history
School or
New institutional economics
Alma materNorthwestern University
Tel Aviv University
Joel Mokyr[1]
John C. Panzar[1]
William Rogerson[1]

Avner Greif (/ɡrf/; born 1955) is an economics professor at Stanford University, Stanford, California. He holds a chaired professorship as Bowman Family Professor in the Humanities and Sciences.

Greif received his PhD in Economics at Northwestern University, where Joel Mokyr acted as his supervisor,[2] in 1989 and started his career at Stanford University in 1989 until he received tenure in 1994. In 1998 he received a 'genius grant'[3] from the MacArthur Foundation. His works deal with economic history and role of institutions in economic development, including analysis of trade in medieval Europe and Levant.


Greif specializes in the study of the social institutions that support economic development, and their history, incorporating game theory into his approach to this large subject. Greif is on the board of trustees of the International Society of New Institutional Economics.

In Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade (2006), Greif argues that institutions play a central role in economic development:

Studying institutions sheds light on why some countries are rich and others poor, why some enjoy a welfare-enhancing political order and others do not. Socially beneficial institutions promote welfare-enhancing cooperation and action. They provide the foundations of markets by efficiently assigning, protecting, and altering property rights; securing contracts; and motivating specialization and exchange. Good institutions also encourage production by fostering saving, investment in human and physical capital, and development and adoption of useful knowledge. They maintain a sustainable rate of population growth and foster welfare-enhancing peace; the joint mobilization of resources; and beneficial policies, such as the provision of public goods. The quality of these institutional foundations of the economy and the polity is paramount in determining a society’s welfare. This is the case because individuals do not always recognize what will be socially benefi- cial nor are they motivated to pursue it effectively in the absence of appropriate institutions.[4]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Greif, Avner (1993). "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition" (PDF). The American Economic Review. 83 (3): 525–48.
  • Greif, Avner (1994). "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies" (PDF). The Journal of Political Economy. 102 (October 5): 912–50. doi:10.1086/261959.
  • Greif, Avner and David Laitin (2004). "A Theory of Endogenous Institutional Change" (PDF). American Political Science Review. 98 (4): 14–48. doi:10.1017/s0003055404041395. SSRN 548363.
  • Avner Greif (2006). Institutions and the path to the modern economy: lessons from medieval trade. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-48044-4. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  • Greif, Avner (2006). "Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations". American Economic Review. 96 (2): 308–312. doi:10.1257/000282806777212602. SSRN 875008.
  • Greif, Avner (2008). "Coercion and Exchange: How Did Markets Evolve?". SSRN 1304204. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Greif, Avner and Steven Tadelis (2010). "A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy". Journal of Comparative Economics. 38 (3): 229–244. doi:10.1016/j.jce.2010.07.005. SSRN 1638662.
  • Greif, Avner and Guido Tabellini (2010). "Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared". American Economic Review. 100 (2): 135–140. doi:10.1257/aer.100.2.135. SSRN 1532906.
  • Greif, Avner, Murat Iyigun, and Diego L. Sasson (2011). "Risk, Institutions and Growth: Why England and Not China?". SSRN 1801664. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Greif, Avner, Murat Iyigun, and Diego L. Sasson (2012). "Social Institutions and Economic Growth: Why England and Not China Became the First Modern Economy". SSRN 1783879. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) (This paper is an updated version of "Risk, Institutions and Growth: Why England and Not China?")
  • Greif, Avner and Guido Tabellini (2015). "The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe". SSRN 2101460. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Dippel, Christian, Avner Greif, and Dan Trefler (2016). "The Rents From Trade and Coercive Institutions: Removing the Sugar Coating". SSRN 2864727. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Desmet, Klaus, Avner Greif, and Stephen L. Parente (2017). "Spatial Competition, Innovation and Institutions: The Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence". SSRN 2927147. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Greif, Avner and Guido Tabellini (2017). "The Clan and the Corporation: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe". Journal of Comparative Economics. 45 (1, Feb): 1–45. doi:10.1016/j.jce.2016.12.003. SSRN 2565120.


  1. ^ a b c Greif, Avner (1991). "The Organization of Long-Distance Trade: Reputation and Coalitions in the Geniza Documents and Genoa During the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries". The Journal of Economic History. 51 (2): 459. doi:10.1017/s0022050700039097.
  2. ^ "Avner Greif's Homepage at Stanford Department of Economics". Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "1998 MacArthur Foundation Awards".
  4. ^ "Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved March 11, 2017.

External links[edit]