Government and the American Economy
A New History
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About the author
Price V. Fishback is the Frank and Clara Kramer ProfessorofEconomics at the University of Arizona and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation.
The American economy has provided a level of well-being that has consistently ranked at or near the top of the international ladder. A key source of this success has been widespread participation in political and economic processes. In The Government and the American Economy, leading economic historians chronicle the significance of America’s open-access society and the roles played by government in its unrivaled success story.
America’s democratic experiment, the authors show, allowed individuals and interest groups to shape the structure and policies of government, which, in turn, have fostered economic success and innovation by emphasizing private property rights, the rule of law, and protections of individual freedom. In response to new demands for infrastructure, America’s federal structure hastened development by promoting the primacy of states, cities, and national governments. More recently, the economic reach of American government expanded dramatically as the populace accepted stronger limits on its economic freedoms in exchange for the increased security provided by regulation, an expanded welfare state, and a stronger national defense.
University of Chicago Press
; September 2008
635 pages; ISBN 9780226251295Read online
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Title: Government and the American Economy
Author: Price V. Fishback; Douglass C. North
In the press
“Ever since Adam Smith, our intuition has led us to believe that good government and good institutions are absolutely central to economic development. Modern economic theory and empirical analysis have now converted that intuition into concrete fact. Government and the American Economy is a superb example of this conversion. It is a must read for anyone interested in what makes for long run economic success.”--Jeffrey G. Williamson, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Harvard University
— Jeffrey G. Williamson
“This book is a penetrating analysis of the changing role of the government in the U.S. economy from colonial time to the present. Each chapter is a cameo presentation of its topic or period.”--Robert W. Fogel, Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions, University of Chicago, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
— Robert W. Fogel
“This engaging and unique book tells the story of the evolution of the American economy from colonial times to the present – the journey of the United States from a peripheral state in the Atlantic economy to world leader. Along the way, it not only tells the economic story, but a political one, emphasizing the role of the government and interest groups in American economic development. The contributors represent a major portion of who's who in economic history.”--Barry R. Weingast, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor in the Department of Political Science, Stanford University
— Barry R. Weingast
“This is an important contribution to understanding both continuities and changes in the dynamics of the American economy and the role of governments at the federal, state, and local levels. The highly stimulating essays on the evolving role of government in the American economy, contributed by world class scholars, will be of interest to economists, political scientists, economic historians, and historians of public policy, who will find much to learn and much to teach.”--Paul Rhode, University of Arizona
— Paul Rhode
"They say that history is written by the winners, but history might be even more interesting when it's written by the economists. . . . It's a fascinating journey."
"An invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to know more about public economies and economic history. The volume includes contributions from leading economic historians, and readers are sure to find the essays easy to understand and enjoyable to read. . . . Highly recommended."
"This volume not only deftly investigates whether and to what extent these and other policies have augmented standards of living. It also recognizes that such policies produce unintended consequences, including a government--read military-industrial-congressional complex--on which we increasingly rely."
— Joseph M. Santos, Enterprise & Society