nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2009‒01‒31
three papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America By Joseph H. Davis; Christopher Hanes; Paul W. Rhode
  2. Whistleblower or Troublemaker? How One Man Took on the Soviet Mafia By Harrison, Mark
  3. "Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped U.S. Childbearing By Martha J. Bailey

  1. By: Joseph H. Davis; Christopher Hanes; Paul W. Rhode
    Abstract: Most major American industrial business cycles from around 1880 to the First World War were caused by fluctuations in the size of the cotton harvest due to economically exogenous factors such as weather. Wheat and corn harvests did not affect industrial production; nor did the cotton harvest before the late 1870s. The unique effect of the cotton harvest in this period can be explained as an essentially monetary phenomenon, the result of interactions between harvests, international gold flows and high-powered money demand under America’s gold-standard regime of 1879-1914.
    JEL: E32 N11 N51 N61
    Date: 2009–01
  2. By: Harrison, Mark (Department of Economics, University of Warwick ; Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham ; Hoover Institution onWar, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University.)
    Abstract: The paper tells the story of a pensioner’s fight against a local mafia of Soviet party and government officials and farm managers in a remote rural locality in the 1950s. To Moscow, he was a whistleblower. To the leaders of his local community, he was a troublemaker. Working together, the local people went to extraordinary lengths to suppress his criticisms. Eventually, Moscow intervened to vindicate him. The story illustrates vividly the political and economic issues that arose when a centralized dictatorship that relied on mass mobilization over a vast territory with sometimes poor communications tried to contain local rent seeking while moving away from mass terror as its chief instrument of control.
    Keywords: Corruption ; Mafia ; Soviet Economy ; Whistleblowing.
    JEL: D7 N4 P3
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Martha J. Bailey
    Abstract: The 1960s ushered in a new era in U.S. demographic history characterized by significantly lower fertility rates and smaller family sizes. What catalyzed these changes remains a matter of considerable debate. This paper exploits idiosyncratic variation in the language of "Comstock" statutes, enacted in the late 1800s, to quantify the role of the birth control pill in the 1960s. Almost fifty years after it appeared on the U.S. market, this analysis provides new evidence that oral contraception accelerated the post-1960 decline in marital fertility.
    JEL: I18 J01 J1 J12 J13
    Date: 2009–01

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