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Philip T. Hoffman

Rea A. and Lela G. Axline Professor of Business Economics and History
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Contact information for Philip T. Hoffman
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A.B., Harvard College, 1969; M.A., University of California, 1971; Ph.D., Yale University, 1979. Lecturer in History, Caltech, 1980-81; Instructor, 1981-82; Assistant Professor, 1982-84; Associate Professor of History and Social Science, 1984-95; Professor, 1995-2003; Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of History and Social Science, 2003-08; Axline Professor, 2008-. Executive Officer for the Humanities, 1995-2000.

Research Interests

Economic History of Europe and the World; Economic Development; Institutional Change


Economic History; Social Science History


Philip Hoffman is interested in combining economic theory and historical evidence to explain long-term changes in politics, society, and the economy—in particular, economic growth and political development. His current research focuses on several areas. He's exploring why the West grew rich before other parts of the world and why it became a dominant military power.  Another area of interest is the evolution of financial institutions and their effect on economic growth. Specifically, he's trying to understand how mortgage markets developed in France and how they were affected by institutional change. Finally, Hoffman is interested in how states develop the capacity to levy taxes and provide public goods.

Hoffman was president of the Economic History Association in 2013–2014 and co-editor of the Journal of Economic History from 2006 to 2010, and he will become the incoming president of the Social Science History Association in 2019. He has been a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France, a visiting researcher at the Paris School of Economics (2011), and a visiting professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2013). In addition to numerous articles, he has written six books and edited two. He has won the Gyorgy Ranki Biennial Prize from the Economic History Association twice, for Priceless Markets: The Political Economy of Credit in Paris, 1660–1870 (2001) and for Growth in a Traditional Society: The French Countryside, 1450–1815 (1997), which was also awarded the Allan Sharlin Memorial Award from the Social Science History Association. In addition to receiving other prizes for his books and articles, he was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2001.

Selected Publications

Hoffman, Rosenthal.png


Why Did Europe Conquer the World?

Princeton University Press, 2015

Surviving Large Losses: Financial Crises, the Middle Class, and the Development of Capital Markets

Harvard University Press, 2009

Finance, Intermediaries,
and Economic Development

Cambridge University Press, 2003

Hoffman%20Cover%20-%20Priceless.jpeg Priceless Markets

(English edition)
University of Chicago Press, 2001

Gyorgy Ranki Prize
Economic History Association, 2001


Des Marchés sans Prix (French edition)
Éditions EHess, 2001

Hoffman%20Cover%20-%20Growth.gif Growth in a Traditional Society
Princeton University Press, 1996

Gyorgy Ranki Prize
Economic History Association, 1997

Sharlin Memorial Award
                                  Social Science History Association, 1997


Fiscal Crises, Liberty, and
Representative Government

Stanford University Press, 1994


Hoffman, Philip T. (2015) What Do States Do? Politics and Economic History. Journal of Economic History, 75 (2). pp. 303-332. ISSN 0022-0507. Download

Hoffman, Philip T. and Postel-Vinay, Gilles and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent (2015) Entry, information, and financial development: A century of competition between French banks and notaries. Explorations in Economic History, 55 . pp. 39-57. ISSN 0014-4983. Download

Hoffman, Philip T. (2012) Why Was It Europeans Who Conquered the World? Journal of Economic History, 72 (3). pp. 601-633. ISSN 0022-0507. Download

Hoffman, Philip T. (2011) Prices, the military revolution, and western Europe's comparative advantage in violence. Economic History Review, 64 (S1). pp. 39-59. ISSN 0013-0117. Download