How do social and economic disparities arise between and within countries?

The Economic and Social History research group is focused on long-term developments in the world economy and societies, from the late Middle Ages to the present day. Our central research questions are: How do social and economic disparities arise between and within countries? How have these developed and how can they be explained?

In order to answer these questions we chart the long-term development of various regions of the world. We do this by looking at various indicators of economic and welfare development such as institutions, the degree of interaction with the global market, geographical aspects, culture and religion.

Comparative perspective

Our research method is characterised by the comparative perspective in which the Dutch 'case study' plays a major role. The Netherlands – or more accurately 'the Low Countries' – is a special case in world history. As far back as the late Middle Ages and early modern period, the Netherlands already displayed many 'modern' aspects such as social equality, a strong civil society, well-protected property rights and periods of rapid economic growth. By analysing the development of the Dutch economy and society we attempt to gain an understanding of these patterns of modernisation, which we can then compare with other areas in the world.

Interdisciplinarity

A second characteristic of our research method is its interdisciplinary nature: we use quantitative historical data to test theories from the social and economic sciences. Much of the research takes an in-depth look at various aspects of social and economic development. We examine financial markets, life expectancy and sex ratio, how the polders were governed and how the Dutch dealt with disasters. We also pay much attention to the recent history of the Dutch business sector, in collaboration with representatives from the sector.

News

Women, Work and Colonialism in the Netherlands and Java
3 June 2019
This book by Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk was recently published by Palgrave Macmillan.
© iStockphoto.com
14 May 2019
Utrecht researchers are contributing to 'Measuring Prosperity' file of ESB.
6 May 2019
On 24 May Routledge publishes 'The Commons in a Glocal World', a book co-edited by Tine De Moor.
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Events

16e-eeuws wandtapijt met een voorstelling van de Slag bij Pavia op 24 februari 1525
9 July 2019 10:30 - 11:30
On 9 July Bram van Besouw will defend his PhD thesis 'On the Economic Consequences of Warfare in Early Modern Northwest Europe'.
Bron: De Amsterdammer: Weekblad voor Nederland, 30 juni 1923 – No. 2401
20 March 2020 09:00 - 21 March 2020 18:00
Why was it that, in developed Western economies, financial institutions like banks only began to reach deep into society during the 1960s and 1970s?
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Groepsportret van Economische en Sociale Geschiedenis. Foto: Marijn Smulders
Areas of expertise: business history | polder model | history of the creative industry | business models and strategies | collective action | citizenship | the Dutch Golden Age | commons | self-governance | financial markets before 1800 | Dutch East India Company