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Authors Author Directory Sumner La Croix

Sumner La Croix


Sumner La Croix is Professor Emeritus in the Dept. of Economics at the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa and a research fellow with the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. His research focuses on the economic history of Hawai‘i, property rights in land in frontier economies, and intellectual property rights in the Asia-Pacific region.

La Croix’s articles have appeared recently in leading economics and policy journals, Sumner_La_Croix_Authorincluding Research PolicyJournal of Economic HistoryEconomic History ReviewHandbook of Cliometrics, and International Economic Review. He is on the editorial board of Journal of Economic History, an executive editor for Journal of Asian Economics, and an associate editor of Asian Economic Journal and Australian Economic History Review. La Croix’s new book, Hawai‘i: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change, was published by the University of Chicago Press in March 2019.

In May 2016, the Cliometric Society presented its Clio Can Award to La Croix for exceptional service to the field of cliometrics, i.e., quantitative and theoretical economic history.

Website address:
Twitter address: @Sumner_LaCroix 
Facebook:  Sumner La Croix@Hawaii800Years


 Recent articles include: “The Butlin Memorial Lecture. From First Canoe to Statehood: Eight Hundred Years of Economic and Political Change in Hawaii,” Australian Economic History Review (2019); (with A. Dye), “Institutions for the Taking: Property Rights and the Settlement of the Cape Colony, 1652-1750,” Economic History Review (2018); “Douglass North and Cliometrics,” in C. Diebolt and M. Haupert, eds, Handbook of Cliometrics (2018); “Land Confiscations and Land Reform in Natural Order States,” in A. Balisacan, U. Chakravorty,  M. Ravago, eds, Resources, Development and Public Policy: Concepts, Practice and Challenges (2015).


Hawaii: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change
Relative to the other habited places on our planet, Hawai‘i has a very short history. The Hawaiian archipelago was the last major land area on the planet to be settled, with Polynesians making the long voyage just under a millennium ago. Our understanding of the social, political, and economic changes that have unfolded since then has been limited until recently by how little we knew about the first five centuries of settlement.

Building on new archaeological and historical research, Sumner La Croix assembles the Sumner_La_Croix_Hawaii_Book_Covereconomic history of Hawai‘i from the first Polynesian settlements in the 12th/13th centuries through the unification of Hawai‘i under Kamehameha in 1795, US colonization at the start of the 20th century, the emergence of statehood after World War II, and the challenges facing Hawai‘i as a US state. His analysis begins by showing how the political and economic institutions that emerged and evolved in Hawai‘i during its centuries of global isolation changed in response to Hawai‘i’ s post-1778 integration into a new world of global markets and colonial politics. La Croix shows how the 1876 U.S.-Hawaii free trade treaty left Hawaii vulnerable to U.S. demands that culminated in the U.S. takeover of the island nation in 1898. U.S. colonial rule lasted for 61 years before changes in Hawaiian and U.S. politics led to Hawaii becoming a U.S. state in 1959. The transition to an open-access political order led to dramatic changes in state policies and increased economic growth but the new state and its people have struggled to address important legacies of the colonial era, in particular lost Hawaiian sovereignty and the state’s illegal confiscation of crown lands.

Buy Hawaii: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change from Amazon

Buy Hawaii: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change from Barnes & Noble

Buy Hawaii: Eight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change from University of Chicago Press

Awards & Prizes

2016 Clio Can Award from the Cliometric Society.

Literary Festival Appearances

Hawaii Book and Music Festival, May 5, 2019.

Contact email:


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