Außenansicht des D3 und des AD Gebäudes


Welcome to the website of the Institute for Economic and Social History!

Economic and social history is a genuinely interdisciplinary research area, to be understood both as a sub-discipline of historical research and as a transdisciplinary historical economic and social science.

As a historical social science it is characterized by the critical use and reflection of the methods and theories of economics, demography, sociology and many disciplines in business studies to explore the economic and social dimensions of the past. As such, it can be understood as central to a socio-economic teaching and research program. At the institute, we are mainly dedicated to research and teaching on long-run developments in the world economy and individual economies as well as on banking and financial history.

A special organizational section of our institute is dedicated to business history. Our Philosophy Division goes beyond the interdisciplinary agenda of economic and social history and engages in research and teaching on, among other things, the conditions and limits of knowledge as such.  Additionally, our division for research on university history explores, in close cooperation with the University Archives, the history of this university itself within the wider context of university history research.

Some recent news from the institute and its staff:

Research Seminar

Seminar for Economic and Social History/Socioeconomics Research Seminar on

1st June 2021, 18.00-19.30h with

Javier Mejía Cubillos  (NYU Abu Dhabi, 

"Social networks and entrepreneurship in historical context ".

The seminar will be held online via Zoom, please send an email to to get the link if you would like to participate.

This paper explores the relationship between social networks and entrepreneurship by constructing a dynamic social network from archival records. The network corresponds to the elite of a society in transition to modernity, late 19th- and early 20th-century Antioquia (Colombia). I exploit the timing of unexpected deaths as a source of exogenous variation of individuals' network position. I find that individuals better connected at a global level (i.e. more important as bridges in the entire network) were more involved in entrepreneurship. However, I do not find individuals better locally connected (i.e. with a denser immediate network) to be more involved in entrepreneurship. I provide quantitative evidence on the performance of the firms and narratives on the behavior of the entrepreneurs who created them to indicate that these results can be explained by the requirement of complementary resources that entrepreneurship had. These resources were spread in society and markets worked poorly enough to canalize them to entrepreneurs. Thus, networks operated as substitutes for markets in the acquisition of resources. In particular, individuals with network positions that favored the combination of a broad set of resources had a comparative advantage in entrepreneurship. 

Javier Mejía Cubillos is Postdoctoral Associate at the Social Science division of New York University Abu Dhabi. He holds a PhD from Los Andes University in Bogotá and has been visiting researcher at Stanford University and University of Bordeaux. His work concentrates on social networks, social mobility and entrepreneurship in historical perspective, with main geographical focus on Latin America and the Middle East. Two of his working papers that relate to today's talk are Social Interactions and Modern Economic Growth and Social Networks and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Antioquian Industrialization. He has also published a biographical dictionary of Antioquías elites. Other projects include "Social mobility in an industrializing economy" (with Camilo García-Jimeno and James Robinson), "Committing not to build a state" (with Leopoldo Fergusson, Santiago Torres and James Robinson) and "Information transmission in traditional societies: Evidence from Sufism in early Islam" (with Jeremy Farrell). As you can learn from his home page, apart from his academic achievements he also runs a small private investment fund and is an avid reader and book collector in the history of economic thought. He also has an insightful twitter account (