Table of Contents

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.

Chapter 102: Ronald Harry Coase (1910–2013)

Élodie Bertrand

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


In 1991, Ronald Harry Coase was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, for his introduction of transaction costs and property rights to explain the functioning of the economic system. Two articles were cited: “The nature of the firm” (Coase 1937) – seminal for recent theories of the firm – and “The problem of social cost” (1960) – seminal for the Law and Economics movement. These articles are sometimes contrasted, illustrating Coase’s political evolution from Socialism to membership of the Mont Pèlerin Society: the 1937 article, focusing on the costs of the market, can be read as defending economic planning, while the latter, from which originated the “Coase theorem”, is typically interpreted as defending a market solution to externalities. Despite their divergences, both articles illustrate the main features of Coase’s approach to economics. First, they develop a comparative institutional method, that is, they compare the production value yielded by alternative arrangements net of the costs of their operation. Second, they are based on empirical material and call for realism in the analysis, leading to the introduction of transaction costs as an explanation of the firm, and the economic role of the law, respectively. These articles were the source of a renewed interest in institutions among economists, and paved the way for the different trends of institutional economics. Coase, however, contributed to other fields of economic theory (Medema 1994; Ménard and Bertrand 2016): he is cited as being the originator of the concept of rational expectations;...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information