Understanding the Process of Economic Change

Nov 14, 2002Nov 17, 2002
Mercatus Center

This conference was the third in a three-part series on “Liberty, Responsibility, and Economic Change,” led by Douglass North and Paul Edwards. The purpose of this conference was to assemble an interdisciplinary group of scholars to discuss, comment upon, and suggest improvements to Nobel Laureate Douglass North’s manuscript for his book, Understanding the Process of Economic Change. The goals of the North book are to spur the development of a dynamic theory of change that surmounts two large impediments facing traditional social science: the static nature of their models, and their unrealistic assumptions about the psychology of human choice. North puts special stress on the importance of belief systems and consciousness, in addition to the structure of institutions, in developing a theory of change. North attempts to apply the theory to account for, among other things, social order and disorder, the economic rise of the West and its institutions grounded in individual liberty, and to better understand how to improve economic performance.