Economic history is the academic study of economies or economic events of the past. Research is conducted using a combination of historical methods, statistical methods and the application of economic theory to historical situations and institutions. The field can encompass a wide variety of topics, including equality, finance, technology, labour, and business. It emphasizes historicizing the economy itself, analyzing it as a dynamic force and attempting to provide insights into the way it is structured and conceived.
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Using both quantitative data and qualitative sources, economic historians emphasize understanding the historical context in which major economic events take place. They often focus on the institutional dynamics of systems of production, labor, and capital, as well as the economy's impact on society, culture, and language. Scholars of the discipline may approach their analysis from the perspective of different schools of economic thought, such as mainstream economics, Marxian economics, the Chicago school of economics, and Keynesian economics.
Sub-disciplines of the field include financial and business history, which overlaps with areas of social history such as demographic and labor history. The quantitative (econometric) study of economic history is also known as cliometrics. Historians have recently re-engaged with the study of economic history in a new field calling itself history of capitalism.