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Greif v. Edwards and Ogilvie

- July 9, 2008

Avner Greif is one of the most widely cited economists in political science, largely because of his work on informal institutions and contract enforcement in mediaeval Jewish trading networks. Thus, political scientists with little grounding in economic history may nonetheless be interested in the brouhaha between two Cambridge economists, “Jeremy Edwards and Sheilagh Ogilvie”:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1107801 and “Greif himself”:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1153826 over whether he completely misinterpreted his evidence. I haven’t gone through the papers point-by-point, but it seems to me that Greif gets the better of the exchange; certainly, several of Edwards and Ogilvies’ accusations seem to be specious, based on misinterpretations of the evidence, or disproved by other available evidence.