‘Big data’ is now readily available to economic historians, thanks to the digitisation of primary sources, collaborative research linking different data sets, and the publication of databases on the internet. Key economic indicators, such as the consumer price index, can be tracked over long periods, and qualitative information, such as land use, can be converted to a quantitative form. In order to fully exploit these innovations it is necessary to use sophisticated statistical techniques to reveal the patterns hidden in datasets, and this book shows how this can be done.

A distinguished group of economic historians have teamed up with younger researchers to pilot the application of new techniques to ‘big data’. Topics addressed in this volume include prices and the standard of living, money supply, credit markets, land values and land use, transport, technological innovation, and business networks. The research spans the medieval, early modern and modern periods. Research methods include simultaneous equation systems, stochastic trends and discrete choice modelling.

This book is essential reading for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in business, economic and social history. The case studies will also appeal to historical geographers and applied econometricians.

chapter 1|22 pages


Research methods for large databases

chapter 2|39 pages

Long-run price dynamics

The measurement of substitutability between commodities

chapter 4|27 pages

Medieval foreign exchange

A time series analysis

chapter 6|19 pages

Visual analytics for large-scale actor networks

A case study of Liverpool, 1750–1810

chapter 7|35 pages

Railways and local population growth

Northamptonshire and Rutland, 1801–91

chapter 9|24 pages

The diffusion of steam technology in England

Ploughing engines, 1859–1930

chapter 10|22 pages

Cupidity and crime

Consumption as revealed by insights from the Old Bailey records of thefts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries