1932

Abstract

A recent wave of research in political science examines the past using statistical methods for causal inference and formal theory—a field widely known as historical political economy (HPE). We examine the development of this field. Our survey reveals three common uses of history in HPE: understanding the past for its own sake, using history as a way to understand the present, and using history as a setting to explore theoretical conjectures. We present important work in each area and discuss trade-offs of each approach. We further identify key practical and analytical challenges for scholars of HPE, including the accessibility of data that do exist and obstacles to inference when they do not. Looking to the future, we see improved training for scholars entering the field, a heightened focus on the accumulation of knowledge, and greater attention to underexplored topics such as race, gender, ethnicity, and climate change.

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2023-06-15
2024-06-21
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