Catching up or falling behind? Institutions, Geography and Economic Development of Eastern Europe in the Long Run

We look back on a summer school, hosted by the EHES, Humboldt-Universität and the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Centered on the theme “Catching up or falling behind? Institutions, Geography and Economic Development of Eastern Europe in the Long Run”, the Summer School brought together experienced and young researchers working on Eastern European economic history in an engaging and informal atmosphere. The event, which took place from September 1st to 5th, put the factors that have shaped development of the eastern half of the continent in the context of the recent debates in our discipline, such as the Little Divergence, institutional persistence and the role of geography.

Lecturers Max-Stephan Schulze (LSE, London) and Nikolaus Wolf (Humboldt,
Berlin)  focused on the role of market access and agglomeration effects in explaining the lag between western and eastern European regions.

Steven Nafziger (Williams College, MA) and Sevket Pamuk (Boğaziçi, Istanbul) provided valuable insights into the interaction between state formation, institutional reform and economic outcomes. Sibylle Lehmann-Hasemeyer (Hohenheim) took the chance to offer an encompassing account of the political economy of growth and protectionism in the late 19th century.

Additionally, the Summer School featured daily seminars aimed at bridging the gap between theoretical insights and hands-on empirical analysis. Speakers Tamas Vonyo (LSE, London), Alexander Klein (Kent) and Matthias Morys (York) allowed the  participants an in-depth view of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of empirical research. Particular emphasis was placed on the methodological issues surrounding growth accounting, the treatment of endogeneity, and exchange rate dynamics.

Finally, afternoon workshops gave doctoral students a chance to present their newest research related to Eastern Europe. This included talks by Bálint Menyhért, Hana Nielsen, Ilya Voskoboynikov, Jelena Raifalovic and Leo Kukic on the long run drivers of development, Flóra Macher, Thilo Albers, Marvin Suesse and Stefan Nikolic on financial crises and geography, Elena Korchmina, Alexander Opitz, Ekaterina Khautsova and Valentyna Shevchenko on institutions and economic development in Imperial Russia, Mikolaj Malinowski, Pinar Ceylan, Piotr Łozowski, and David Dolejší on early modern markets and cities, as well as Rita Pető, Máté Rigó, Ruth Schueler and Paweł Bukowski on the economic role of culture, education and social status.

We are very proud of having hosted such an event that provided stimulating intellectual inspiration for so many promising young talents. Many students took the chance to build networks and present their ideas to academic peers stemming from different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. The impressive variety of innovative ideas presented during the week gives us a very positive outlook on the future of the field.

This blog post was written by:

Thilo R. Huning, PhD student at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin.