Joel Mokyr

Joel Mokyr
Born (1946-07-26) 26 July 1946
Nationality Israeli American
Spouse(s) Margalit
Institution Northwestern University
Field Economic history
Alma mater Yale University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Avner Greif[1]
Awards Balzan Prize (2015)

Joel Mokyr (born 26 July 1946) is an American and Israeli economic historian.


Mokyr was born in the Netherlands. His parents were Dutch Jews who survived the Holocaust. His father, a civil servant, died of cancer when Mokyr was a year old and he was raised by his mother in Haifa, Israel. He is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

Mokyr holds a joint appointment in economics as well as a Sackler Professorial Fellow at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. He is particularly interested in the economic history of technology and population, but considers himself a general-purpose economic historian. A former editor of the Journal of Economic History and President of the Economic History Association, he served as the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History,[2] and continues to be editor in chief of a book series published by Princeton University Press, The Princeton University Press Economic History of the Western World.[3] A former chair of the Economics Department and President of the Economic History Association, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a number of comparable institutions in Europe.

He became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.[4]

Explanations for the Industrial Revolution

Mokyr argues that the Industrial Revolution is the result of culture and institutions.[5] More specifically, he argues that the root of modernity is in "the emergence of a belief in the usefulness of progress", and that "it was a turning point when intellectuals started to conceive of knowledge as cumulative".[6]




Mokyr is married to Margalit Mokyr and they have two daughters.


  1. Greif, Avner (1991). "The Organization of Long-Distance Trade: Reputation and Coalitions in the Geniza Documents and Genoa During the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries". Journal of Economic History. 51 (2): 459.
  2. Joel Mokyr (2003-10-16). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (5Vols). Oxford University Press on Demand. ISBN 978-0-19-510507-0.
  3. Princeton Economic History of the Western World, accessed 2009-09-08.
  4. "Joël Mokyr". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  5. Mokyr, Joel (2005-06-01). "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth". The Journal of Economic History. 65 (2): 285–351. doi:10.1017/S0022050705000112. ISSN 1471-6372.
  6. Mokyr, Joel. "Progress Isn't Natural". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  7. Joel Mokyr, Curriculum Vitae
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