Douglass C. North’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1993
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my fellow economic historian and close friend Robert Fogel and myself, I would like to express our gratitude to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the immense honor bestowed on us today. This prize not only honors us but provides recognition to the field of economic history as an important and integral part of economics.
The result of more than thirty five years of the new economic history, or cliometrics, is not only to shed new light on the past as a result of the application of economic theory and quantitative methods to history but to provide social scientists with new insights into and a deeper understanding of the nature of societal and economic change. More than that, by developing new analytical tools to understand economic and social change economic historians are thereby adding important new dimensions to economics – and the other social sciences – attempting to confront the many economic and social problems of societies.
We have a long way to go in understanding the way economies and societies evolve through time; but the progress of the past three decades augurs well for the future. This award to economic historians will provide the recognition of our sub-discipline that will constitute an important spur for continued progress.