Economic History at GMU

At George Mason University we have a virbrant group of economic historians. The core faculty in economic history includes Mark Koyama, Noel Johnson , Jack Goldstone , John Nye and Carlos Ramirez. Most of the faculty are based at the Center for Study of Public Choice. We are involved in running several seminars including the weekly Public Choice Seminar and the bi-monthly Washington Area Economic History Seminar which we host joinly with American University, and the University of Maryland. This website hosts our work and provides information about our current and past gradute students.

We are particularly strong in European economic history. But we are also interested in a range of topics including the Great Divergence, Financial History, and New Institutional Economics.

Recent faculty work has attactracted media attention in a range of prominent outlets including the New York Times, Slate, and the Washington Post and has been published in leading economics and economic history journals.


We are involved in a number of seminars which frequently feature leading economic historians.
  • The Public Choice Center Seminar
  • The Washington Area Economic History Seminar
  • The Washington Area Economic History Workshop August 2016
  • The Washington Area Economic History Workshop January 2015
  • The Washington Area Economic History Workshop August 2014
  • The Washington Area Economic History Workshop Janaury 2014

  • Recent Working Papers

    Bones, Bacteria and Breaks: The Heterogeneous Spatial Effects of the Black Death on Urban Economic Development” Remi Jebwab, Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama

    Jewish Communities and City Growth in Preindustrial Europe ” Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama

    Geopolitics and Asia's Little Divergence: A Comparative Analysis of State Building in China and Japan after 1850” MarK Koyama, Chiaki Moriguchi and Tuan-Hwee Sng
    [ssrn] [slides]

    The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China” Mark Koyama and Melanie Meng Xue [ssrn]

    Textiles and the Historical Emergence of Gender Equality in China” Melanie Meng Xue [ssrn]

    Anatomy of Bank Contagion: Evidence from Helena, Montana During the Panic of 1893” Carlos Ramirez and Wayne Zandbergen [ssrn]

    Unified China; Divided Europe” Chiu Yu Ko, Mark Koyama, and Tuan-Hwee Sng [ssrn]

    Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France, Noel Johnson [pdf]

    Selected Recent Publications

    Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks 1100-1800” Warren Anderson, Noel D. Johnson, and Mark Koyama Economic Journal , Forthcoming [ssrn]

    Local banking panics of the 1920s: Identification and determinants” Lee K. Davison and Carlos Ramirez Journal of Monetary Economics , Volume 66, September 2014, Pages 164177 [gated]

    Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witchcraft Trials in France” Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama. Journal of Law and Economics, February 2014. [PDF]

    Tax Farming and the Origins of State Capacity in England and France” Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama. Explorations in Economic History 51,1, pp. 1-20 January 2014 [gated] [PDF]

    Legal Centralization and the Birth of the Secular State” Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama. Journal of Comparative Economics 41, 4, pp. 959978 November 2013 [gated] [PDF]

    Bank failures and the cost of systemic risk: Evidence from 1900 to 1930” Paul H. Kupiec and Carlos Ramirez Journal of Financial Intermediation , Volume 22, Issue 3, July 2013, Pages 285307 [gated]

    The Effect of Bank Failures on Economic Activity: US State-Level Evidence from U.S. States in the Early 20th Century” Carlos Ramirez and Philip A. Shively. Journal of Money, Credit, and BankingMarch-April 2012, Vol. 44, Issue 2-3, pp. 433-455. [gated]

    For a full list of faculty publications consult individual webpages.


    Graduate Courses in Economic History

    We offer the following courses in economic history for graduate students :

    Econ 623: American Economic History, Noel Johnson
    Econ 823: Topics in Economic History, John Nye
    ECON 829: New Institutional Economics, John Nye
    Econ 895 Analytical Narratives, Mark Koyama
    European State Finance Datebase
    Global Price and Wage Data
    Prussian Economic History Database
    Markus Eberhardt's webpage
    James Fenkse's webpage
    Allen Uger Global Price Database
    Bob Allen's Homepage
    Angus Maddison's Data
    Swedish Historical Statistics
    Karl Gunnar Persson's home page
    House of Commons Parliamentary Data
    Greg Clark's home page
    UK Data Service
    RESTAT Data Archive