New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒10‒13
ten papers chosen by

  1. The Long American Grain Invasion of Britain: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the Eighteenth Century By Paul Sharp
  2. Estate Acts, 1600 to 1830: A New Source for British History By Dan Bogart; Gary Richardson
  3. The development of Transistor Radio export from Japan -The contribution of Small and Medium firms in its formative stage- By Yuki Nakajima
  4. Was Germany ever united? Evidence from Intra- and International Trade 1885 – 1933 By Wolf, Nikolaus
  5. The Chilean agricultural transformation during the second half of the twentieth century: A story of institutional change By Antonio Saravia
  6. The Celtic Tiger In Historical And International Perspective By Crafts, Nicholas
  7. Ship building and repairing in Italy, 1861-1913: national and regional time series By Ciccarelli, Carlo; Fenoaltea, Stefano
  8. Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.? By Diego A. Comin; William Easterly; Erick Gong
  9. Inverting Bernoulli’s Theorem: The Original Sin By Xavier De Scheemaekere; Ariane Szafarz
  10. The Evolution of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis By Diego Restuccia; Guillaume Vandenbroucke

  1. By: Paul Sharp (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: This paper provides evidence that transatlantic commodity market integration began prior to the “first era of globalization” at the end of the nineteenth century. It does so by giving a long term perspective to the story of the development of an Atlantic Economy in wheat between the United States and Britain. Both trade statistics and contemporary comment reveal the importance of this trade from the middle to late eighteenth century, long before the so-called grain invasion of the late nineteenth century. Using data on imports from America and a large volume of substantiating primary evidence, specific periods are identified when market integration might have been possible. Using price data for wheat in America and Britain, some evidence is found that markets were integrated, but this process was continuously being interrupted by “exogenous” events, such as trade policy, war and politics. Transportation costs cannot be seen to be the driving force behind periods of increased trade, which are more attributable to the absence of these exogenous events.
    Keywords: grain invasion; wheat; globalization; American colonial trade
    JEL: N7
    Date: 2008–09
  2. By: Dan Bogart; Gary Richardson
    Abstract: A new database demonstrates that between 1600 and 1830, Parliament passed thousands of acts restructuring rights to real and equitable estates. These estate acts enabled individuals and families to sell, mortgage, lease, exchange, and improve land previously bound by landholding and inheritance laws. This essay provides a factual foundation for research on this important topic: the law and economics of property rights during the period preceding the Industrial Revolution. Tables present time-series, cross-sectional, and panel data that should serve as a foundation for empirical analysis. Preliminary analysis indicates ways in which this new evidence may shape our understanding of British economic and social history.
    JEL: K0 K11 N13 N43 P14 P16 P26
    Date: 2008–10
  3. By: Yuki Nakajima (Faculty of Business Administration, Toyo University.)
    Abstract: In a postwar high-growth period, some Japanese industries which were classified as a glight machinery industryh appeared and contributed for acquisition of foreign exchange, especially American dollar. As a case study of these industries, this paper examined the development of Transistor radio industry. Not only some major Japanese electronics companies like Matsushita, SONY and so on, but also a lot of SMEs played a very important roll to open up its American Market. In its early stage, Japanese companies had an advantage of price competition over American companies, but were criticized itsf poor-quality. To improve it, MITI imposed an export restraint which gave favorable allotment to exporters which was dealing high quality goods and had a long term and exclusive contract with American importers. Middle class companies which was at a disadvantage against big companies in past export record utilized the system to secure their quota and was strongly motivated to improve their product. On the other hand, the companies shipping low quality goods had to leave the market. Consequently, by the middle of 1960fs, the industry was reorganized.
    Keywords: KeywordsFJapanese Business History, High-growth era, Small and medium enterprises, Export restraint policy, Transistor radio
    Date: 2008–07
  4. By: Wolf, Nikolaus (The University of Warwick, CEPR and CESifo)
    Abstract: When did Germany become economically integrated? Within the framework of a gravity model, based on a new data set of about 40,000 observations on trade flows within and across the borders of Germany over the period 1885 – 1933, I explore the geography of trade costs across Central Europe. There are three key results. First, the German Empire before 1914 was a poorly integrated economy, both relative to integration across the borders of the German state and in absolute terms. Second, this internal fragmentation resulted from cultural heterogeneity, from administrative borders within Germany, and from geographical barriers that divided Germany along natural trade routes into eastern and western parts. Third, internal integration improved, while external integration worsened after World War I and again with the Great Depression, in part because of border changes along the lines of ethno-linguistic heterogeneity. By the end of the Weimar Republic in 1933, Germany was reasonably well integrated.
    Keywords: Germany ; Economic Integration ; Aggregation Bias ; Border Effects
    JEL: F15 N13 N14 N90
    Date: 2008
  5. By: Antonio Saravia (American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
    Abstract: The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic transformation of the Chilean agricultural sector. From accounting for only five percent of the value of Chile’s total exports in the late 1960s, agricultural exports grew to account for more than 30 percent of this value in the mid 1990s. Using a modified neoclassical growth formulation, we show that the transformation of the Chilean agricultural sector can be associated with institutional changes or modifications to the sector’s basic functioning structure. In particular, our historical review shows that changes in the definition of property rights over land, caused by the Chilean agrarian reform first and the general economic reform later, seem to have greatly caused the changes in the sector’s levels of investment and production.
    Keywords: Institutional Economics, Property Rights, Land Tenure, Agricultural Economics, Chile
    JEL: N56 O13 Q11 Q15
    Date: 2008–10
  6. By: Crafts, Nicholas (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: When Economic Development was published in 1958, Ireland was a growth failure but thirty years later it became the Celtic Tiger. This paper places this remarkable development in the context of long-run economic growth in Western Europe and establishes the distinctive features of Irish experience and policy. This enables an assessment of the diagnosis and policy proposals that Whitaker provided fifty years ago. The central roles in the Celtic Tiger of foreign direct investment, ICT production, and an elastic labour supply are highlighted while the importance of globalization and the abandonment of misguided autarchic policies is made clear.
    Date: 2008
  7. By: Ciccarelli, Carlo; Fenoaltea, Stefano
    Abstract: This paper presents the first comprehensive national and regional time-series estimates for ship building and repairing in post-Unification Italy. The path of the national aggregate differs markedly from the extant series, which cover merchant new-construction alone. The regional estimates point to considerable concentration: Liguria accounted for more than half the product, and Campania for almost another quarter. In Liguria, too, this sector represented up to a quarter of total industrial production; elsewhere, and nationally, it was barely significant.
    Keywords: Italy; ship building industry; national and regional value added; 1861-1913
    JEL: N63 N93
    Date: 2008–10
  8. By: Diego A. Comin (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit); William Easterly (Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics); Erick Gong (University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics)
    Abstract: We assemble a dataset on technology adoption in 1000 BC, 0 AD, and 1500 AD for the predecessors to today's nation states. We find that this very old history of technology adoption is surprisingly significant for today's national development outcomes. Our strong and robust results are for 1500 AD determining per capita income today. We find technological persistence across long epochs: from 1000 BC to 0 AD, from 0 AD to 1500 AD, and from 1500 AD to the present. Although the data allow only some suggestive tests of rival hypotheses to explain long?run technological persistence, we find the evidence to be most consistent with a model of endogenous technology adoption where the cost of adopting new technologies declines sufficiently with the current level of adoption. The evidence is less consistent with a dominant role for population as predicted by the semi?endogenous growth models or for country-level factors like culture, genes or institutions.
    Keywords: Technology adoption, technology history, economic development.
    JEL: O3 N7
    Date: 2008–09
  9. By: Xavier De Scheemaekere (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.); Ariane Szafarz (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels and DULBEA, Université Libre de Bruxelles)
    Abstract: This paper sheds a new light on the gap between a priori and a posteriori probabilities by concentrating on the evolution of the mathematical concept. It identifies the illegitimate use of Bernoulli’s law of large numbers as the probabilists’ original sin. The resulting confusion on the mathematical foundation for statistical inference was detrimental to Laplace’s definition of probability in terms of equi-possible outcomes as well as to von Mises’ frequentist approach. On the opposite, Kolmogorov’s analytical axiomatization of probability theory enables a priori and a posteriori probabilities to relate to each other without contradiction, allowing a consistent mathematical specification of the dual nature of probability. Therefore, only in Kolmorogorov’s formalism is statistical inference rigorously framed.
    Keywords: Probability, Bernoulli’s Theorem, Mathematics, Statistics.
    JEL: N01 B31 C65
    Date: 2008–10
  10. By: Diego Restuccia; Guillaume Vandenbroucke
    Abstract: Between 1940 and 2000 there has been a substantial increase of educational attainment in the United States. What caused this trend? We develop a model of schooling decisions in order to assess the quantitative contribution of technological progress in explaining the evolution of education. We use earnings across educational groups and growth in gross domestic product per worker to restrict technological progress. These restrictions imply substantial skill-biased technical change (SBTC). We find that changes in relative earnings through SBTC can explain the bulk of the increase in educational attainment. In particular, a calibrated version of the model generates an increase in average years of schooling of 48 percent compared to 27 percent in the data. This strong effect of changes in relative earnings on educational attainment is robust to relevant variations in the model and is consistent with empirical estimates of the long-run income elasticity of schooling. We also find that the substantial increase in life expectancy observed during the period contributes little to the change in educational attainment in the model.
    Keywords: educational attainment, schooling, skill-biased technical progress, human capital
    JEL: E1 O3 O4
    Date: 2008–10–05

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