Blog posts

22 July 2021

Special Issue of the Australian Economic History Review July 2021

This week on the blog, Andy Seltzer (Royal Holloway, University of London) reflects on current (July 2021) Special Issue of the Australian Economic History Review. The issue honours the contributions of Professor Jeff Williamson to Australian and Asia-Pacific economic history. There will be an online launch for the issue on 28 July 2021, 13:00 BST (8:00 Boston, 13:00 London, 22:00 Sydney). For more information, and the link to register, see 

Those who know Jeff are aware that he seems to make important contributions to the economic history of virtually everywhere and ‘everywhen’. However, perhaps his most lasting and important research contributions have involved expanding the scope of economic history in terms of both methodology and geographic area. Jeff has been a pioneer in the application of new quantitative methodologies to economic history, such as computable general equilibrium, and in applying these cliometric methodologies beyond the United States and Europe.

Jeff’s contributions to the broad remit of this Journal are emphasised in this issue. Jeff has worked on Asian economic history since the 1960s, and has published dozens of papers on the topic in a wide range of leading economics and economic history journals. His article, ‘Writing History Backwards: Meiji Japan Revisited’ (with Allen Kelley) won the Cole Prize for best article published in the Journal of Economic History in 1971, the first time the prize was awarded for an article on a non-western country. He has also been involved with Australian economic history since the 1980s, visiting ANU and Melbourne on several occasions and being actively involved with the Journal and Society over this time. He has been on the editorial board of the AEHR since 2003, and has contributed more papers than anyone else who has never held a full-time position in an Australian university. Jeff has always been a willing referee and is year-in and year-out among the first to vote on the Coghlan Prize. However, among his many contributions, none has been more important than the advice and encouragement and often actively collaboration that he routinely provides to junior academics in the profession.

The papers in this issue are all written by Jeff’s collaborators and former PhD students and are on topics adjacent to earlier work with Jeff. A table of contents for the issue can be found below:

‘Globalisation, Migration, Trade, and Growth: Honouring the Contribution of Jeff Williamson to Australian and Asia-Pacific Economic History’, Australian Economic History Review, 61(2).

  1. Andrew J. Seltzer, Guest Editor’s Introduction
  2. Timothy Hatton, ‘Emigration from the UK to the USA, Canada and Australia/New Zealand, 1870-1913: Quantity and Quality’
  3. Kevin O’Rourke, Alan de Bromhead, Alan Fernihough, and Markus Lampe ‘Four great Asian trade collapses’
  4. Sambit Bhattacharya, ‘Commodity boom-bust cycles and the resource curse in Australia: 1900 to 2017’
  5. David Jacks and Martin Stuermer, ‘Dry bulk shipping and the evolution of maritime transport costs, 1850-2020’
  6. Jeff Williamson and Laura Panza, ‘Always egalitarian? Australian earnings inequality 1870-1910’