Charles P. Kindleberger (1910–2003), noted economic historian, died of a stroke on Monday, 7 July.This piece largely duplicates the author's entry for Kindleberger in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (edited by Joel Mokyr, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). Used by permission.
Kindleberger was born in New York City in 1910. He received his B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 and his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1937. He came to economic history after distinguished careers in public service (including the Federal Reserve and the Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War) and teaching international trade at M.I.T. He made his entry into the field with a book on Economic Growth in France and Britain, 1851–1950 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964). Kindleberger surveyed the extensive literature on these two countries and concluded that there was no single convincing explanation for the differences between these two countries. He ended the book with the following famous words: “Economic history, like all history, is absorbing, beguiling, great fun. But, for scientific problems, can it be taken seriously?”