We have attacked the traditional interpretation of the economics of slavery not in order to resurrect a defunct system, but in order to correct the perversion of the history of blacks — in order to strike down the view that black Americans were without culture, without achievement, and without development for their first two hundred and fifty years on American soil.
Robert William Fogel, Stanley L. Engerman (1974). Time on the cross: the economics of American Negro slavery. p. 258
Economic history has contributed significantly to the formulation of economic theory. Among the economists who have found history an important source for their ideas are Smith, Malthus, Marx, Marshall, Keynes, Hicks, Arrow, Friedman, Solow, and Becker. Failure to take account of history, as Simon Kuznets (1941) stressed, has often led to a misunderstanding of current economic problems by investigators who have not realized that their generalizations rested upon transient circumstances. Nowhere is the need to recognize the role of long-run dynamics more relevant than in such pressing current issues as medical care, pension policies, and development policies.
As we get rich, the basics of life--food, clothing and shelter--become a very small part of total expenditure. And people have enough money to purchase things that enhance them spiritually and I mean the word spiritual not necessarily in a religious sense but in the sense that it adds to your feeling of well-being.
Robert Fogel and Douglass North have been awarded this year's Prize in Economics for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change.