Joel Mokyr

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Joel Mokyr
Joel Mokyr.png
Born (1946-07-26) 26 July 1946 (age 71)
Leiden, Netherlands
Nationality Israeli American
Spouse(s) Margalit Mokyr; 2 children
Institution Northwestern University
Field Economic history
Alma mater Yale University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Doctoral
students
Avner Greif[1]
Awards Balzan Prize (2015)

Joel Mokyr (born 26 July 1946) is a Netherlands-born American-Israeli economic historian. He is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv.

Background[edit]

Mokyr was born in Leiden, Netherlands. His father, a civil servant, and his mother were Dutch Jews who survived the Holocaust. His father died of cancer when Mokyr was a year old. Mokyr was raised by his mother in Haifa, Israel.[2]

Career[edit]

Mokyr began working at Northwestern University in 1974, having completed his PhD at Yale University.[2] A former editor of the Journal of Economic History and President of the Economic History Association, he served as the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History.[3]

He continues to serve as editor in chief of a book series published by Princeton University Press, The Princeton University Press Economic History of the Western World.[4] A former chair of the Economics Department and President of the Economic History Association, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a number of comparable institutions in Europe.[citation needed]

He became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.[5]

Research[edit]

Explanations for the Industrial Revolution[edit]

Mokyr posits that the Industrial Revolution was the result of culture and institutions.[6] He argues that the root of modernity is in "the emergence of a belief in the usefulness of progress", and that "it was a turning point when intellectuals started to conceive of knowledge as cumulative".[7]

Mokyr furthermore argues that political fragmentation (the presence of a large number of European states) made it possible for heterodox ideas to thrive, as entrepreneurs, innovators, ideologues and heretics could easily flee to a neighbouring state in the event that the one state would try to suppress their ideas and activities. This is what set Europe apart from the technologically advanced, large unitary empires such as China and India. China had both a printing press and movable type, and India had similar levels scientific and technological achievement as Europe in 1700, yet the industrial revolution would occur in Europe, not China or India. In Europe, political fragmentation was coupled with an "integrated market for ideas" where Europe's intellectuals used the lingua franca of Latin, had a shared intellectual basis in Europe's classical heritage and the pan-European institution of the Republic of Letters.[8]

A Culture of Growth[edit]

Mokyr presents his explanations for the Industrial Revolution in the 2016 book A Culture of Growth. The book has received positive reviews. Deirdre McCloskey described it as a "brilliant book... It’s long, but consistently interesting, even witty. It sustains interest right down to page 337... The book is not beach reading. But you will finish it impressively learned about how we got to where we are in the modern world."[9] In her review, McCloskey furthermore lauded Mokyr as a "Nobel-worthy economic scientist".[9]

In a review published in Nature, Brad DeLong found that while he favored other explanations for the Industrial Revolution, "I would not be greatly surprised if I were wrong, and Mokyr's brief... turned out to be the most broadly correct analysis..A Culture of Growth is certainly making me rethink."[10]

Cambridge economic historian Victoria Bateman wrote in her review, "In pointing to growth-boosting factors that go beyond either the state or the market, Mokyr's book is very welcome. It could also feed into discussions about the scientific community post-Brexit. By reviving the focus on culture it will, however, prove controversial, particularly among economists."[11] The book has also been reviewed by Diane Coyle,[12] Peer Vries,[13] and The Economist.[14]

Resistance to new technologies[edit]

Mokyr has outlined three reasons why societies may show resistance to new technologies: "First, there are the incumbents who fear a threat to the stream of rents generated by their physical capital, human capital, market power, or political influence. Innovation inevitably disrupt such rents. Second, there is the concern about broader repercussions: innovations have unintended ripple effects on a host of social and political variables that may generate additional costs and pain to people even if they themselves have no direct say over whether to adopt the innovation. And beyond that there is risk- and loss-aversion, the often well-founded fear than a new technique may have unanticipated and unknowable consequences. These three motives often merge and create powerful forces that use political power and persuasion to thwart innovations. As a result, technological progress does not follow a linear and neat trajectory. It is, as social constructionists have been trying to tell us for decades, a profoundly political process."[15]

Works[edit]

Books:[16]

  • 1976: Industrialization in the Low Countries, 1795–1850
  • 1983: Why Ireland Starved: An Analytical and Quantitative Study of Irish Poverty, 1800–1851
  • 1985: The Economics of the Industrial Revolution (ed.)
  • 1990: Twenty Five Centuries of Technological Change: An Historical Survey
  • 1990: The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress
    • Review article: "The Great Conundrum", The Journal of Modern History Vol 62, No. 1, March 1990
  • 1991: The Vital One: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Hughes (ed.)
  • 1993: The British Industrial Revolution: an Economic Perspective (ed.)
  • 2002: The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy
  • 2003: The Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Economic History (Editor in chief)
  • 2009: The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times (Co-editor)
  • 2009: The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700–1850
  • 2016: A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
  • TBA: The Birth of Modern Europe: Culture and Economy, 1400–1800: Essay in Honor of Jan de Vries(co-editor, with Laura Cruz)
  • TBA: Neither Fluke nor Destiny: Evolutionary Models in Economic History

Family[edit]

Mokyr and his wife Margalit have two daughters.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Greif, Avner (1991). "The Organization of Long-Distance Trade: Reputation and Coalitions in the Geniza Documents and Genoa During the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries". Journal of Economic History. 51 (2): 459. 
  2. ^ a b Aeppel, Timothy. "Economists Debate: Has All the Important Stuff Already Been Invented?". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Joel Mokyr (16 October 2003). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (5Vols). Oxford University Press on Demand. ISBN 978-0-19-510507-0. 
  4. ^ Princeton Economic History of the Western World; accessed 8 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Joël Mokyr". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel (1 June 2005). "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth". The Journal of Economic History. 65 (2): 285–351. ISSN 1471-6372. doi:10.1017/S0022050705000112. 
  7. ^ Mokyr, Joel. "Progress Isn't Natural". The Atlantic. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  8. ^ "Mokyr, J.: A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. (eBook and Hardcover)". press.princeton.edu. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Economic history: ideas that built the world". www.prospectmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  10. ^ DeLong, Brad (27 October 2016). "Economic history: The roots of growth". Nature. 538 (7626): 456–57. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/538456a. 
  11. ^ "A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, by Joel Mokyr". Times Higher Education. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  12. ^ "Subscribe to read". ft.com. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Vries, Peer (10 December 2016). "The Culture of Capitalism". Foreign Affairs. ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "The role of ideas in the "great divergence"". The Economist. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies". eh.net. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Joel Mokyr, Curriculum Vitae, wcas.northwestern.edu; accessed 12 January 2016.
  17. ^ "The Gifts of Athena" (PDF). Retrieved 11 March 2017. 

External links[edit]

  • Profile, Northwestern.edu; accessed 21 January 2016.