Home | People |

Alan Olmstead


  • Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1970
  • M.A., Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1967
  • M.S., History, University of Wisconsin, 1966
  • B.A., History, San Jose State College, 1964 (great distinction and departmental honors)


Alan Olmstead, an authority on economic and agricultural history, is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is a former President of the Economic History Association; he served as the Director of the Institute of Governmental Affairs (1984–2009), and the Director of the All UC Group in Economic History (1979–2009).

Research Focus

Professor Olmstead studies agricultural development, with a focus on the creation of policies to combat diseases and invasive pests, and on the causes and consequences of technological change. He also studies the economics of slavery.

Selected Publications

  • Olmstead, A. L. and P. W. Rhode. Arresting Contagion: Science, Policy, and Conflicts over Animal Disease Control. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.
  • Olmstead, A. L., and P. W. Rhode. Creating Abundance: Biological Innovation and American Agricultural Development. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Olmstead, A. L., and Rhode, P. W. "Adapting North American Wheat Production to Climatic Challenges, 1839–2009." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, open access print edition, 108.2 (January 11, 2011): 480–85.
  • Carter, S., S. Gartner, M. Haines, A. L. Olmstead, R. Sutch, and G. Wright, eds. Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present, Millennial Edition, 5 vols. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Olmstead, A. L., and P. W. Rhode. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy." Journal of Economic History 68 (December 2008): 1123–71.


Alan Olmstead is an emeritus professor and no longer has teaching duties.


  • Fellow of the Cliometric Society, 2010
  • Alice Hanson Jones Prize awarded by the Economic History Association, 2010
  • Quality of Research Discovery Prize presented by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, 2009
  • Arthur H. Cole Prize presented by the Economic History Association, 2003
  • Thomas Jefferson Prize awarded by the Society for History of the Federal Government, 2009