Binnenlandse constituties of buitenlandse omstandigheden?
Internal rules or external circumstances?
While De Vries and Van der Woude scorned 'institutional economics' in favour of the Annalesschool of thought in their The First Modern Economy on the period 1500-1815, Van Zanden and Van Riel paid lip service to North's new 'institutional economics' in their book on Dutch social-economic history during the period 1780-1914. However, their attempt to link developments in the structure and growth of the Dutch economy with consecutive Dutch constitutional law is not that convincing.
Oddly enough, the figures of the National Accounts database, which lies at the very heart of their book, do not corroborate their thesis of a modern economic development in the first half of the 19th Century concomitant with the 'modern' constitution of 1815. The fact that the Netherlands was no longer a force to be reckoned with on the international stage, either economically or politically, during the second half of the 18th Century, was evidently more due to the growing protectionism of the other countries and the small domestic market of the Netherlands than to an institutional structure which, by the way, had not altered since the 'successful' first half of the 17th Century. Nevertheless, their analysis of the influence of the 'arena of collective action of pressure groups' on economic development is are certainly convincing, even brilliant, and makes this book a definite 'must'.
This review is part of the discussion forum Nederland 1780-1914 (J.L. van Zanden, A. van Riel).
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