You're reading Great Transformations, a newsletter about economic history and the origins of historical development. I'm interested in understanding how pre-industrial societies made the transition to modern economic growth, why that transition took place at different times in different places, and what states could do to shape the process of industrialization.

As a subscriber, you can expect irregular essays on various topics in global economic history, especially and unabashedly on Britain—the ‘holy land of industrialism’, as Joel Mokyr puts it. I'm an economic historian by trade, which means a quantitative perspective on the past, a focus on material outcomes, and an embrace of models and data. But I'll do my best to keep the research intelligible—if it wasn't fun at some level, I wouldn't be doing this—and embrace the beauty and mystery of the historical narrative.

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Nope. But I hope you’ll consider a paid subscription nonetheless. Modern economic history research—with its emphasis on generating large new datasets from arcane sources—is exciting, but also expensive. Unfortunately, many (if not most) major institutional funding sources in economics aren’t interested in what I think is the true purpose of economic history: understanding the how and why of historical change. That’s where you can help. Think of yourself like a Tuscan duke of old, giving patronage to itinerant artists and scientists whose work you value. A small donation from you scales up. If only ten percent of my free subscribers took the paid option, I could make my entire research budget every year.

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Irregular essays on the economic history of the early modern world.


Student and economic historian at the University of California, Berkeley. You can support my writing here https://www.buymeacoffee.com/daviskedrosky