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Introducing The Problem: The Emergence Of Efficient Institutions In The Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Economic historians, inspired by Douglass North and his broad reassessment of new institutional economics, tend to believe that the quality of the institutional framework of a nation or region has direct bearing on its economic performance. The quantitative measures of the success of institutions that have been developed in the past few decades are almost always proxies of the degree of efficiency of markets; they therefore measure the results of a complex set of interrelated institutions that in combination cause markets to perform better or worse. Economic theory postulates that reputation mechanisms are very important for sustaining exchange - they are a key institutional ingredient in any market economy. Two Asian regions seem to have approached the European level of skill premium: the south of China and Japan probably both had a skill premium comparable to the western European level, although the evidence for Japan is mixed.

Keywords: economic theory; institutional framework; market economy



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