New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2010‒09‒25
eight papers chosen by

  1. Portage: path dependence and increasing returns in U.S. history By Hoyt Bleakley; Jeffrey Lin.
  2. Convergence Patterns in Latin America By Paola Andrea Barrientos Quiroga
  3. Gilded or gold? National banks and development in the United States 1870–1900 By Scott Fulford
  4. Donor Policies, Industry Structure, and the Global Allocation of Electrification Aid, 1970-2001 By William J. Hausman; John L. Neufeld; Till Schreiber
  5. Emergence of the Women's Question in India and the Role of Women's Studies By Vina Mazumdar
  6. Women and Indian Nationalism By Leela Kasturi; Vina Mazumdar
  7. Two stories about toleration By Rainer Forst
  8. The Golden Halo and Political Transitions By Aidt, Toke; Albornoz, Facundo; Gassebner, Martin

  1. By: Hoyt Bleakley; Jeffrey Lin.
    Abstract: The authors examine portage sites in the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including those on the fall line, a geomorphologic feature in the southeastern U.S. marking the final rapids on rivers before the ocean. Historically, waterborne transport of goods required portage around the falls at these points, while some falls provided water power during early industrialization. These factors attracted commerce and manufacturing. Although these original advantages have long since been made obsolete, the authors document the continuing-and even increasing-importance of these portage sites over time. They interpret this finding in a model with path dependence arising from local increasing returns to scale.
    Keywords: Geography ; Urban economics
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Paola Andrea Barrientos Quiroga (School of Economics and Management, Aarhus University, Denmark)
    Abstract: Literature on convergence among Latin American countries is still scarce compared to other regions. Moreover, almost none of the research connects convergence to the economic history of Latin America and the usual finding is one speed of convergence. In this paper I analyze 32 countries and 108 years, more observations than any other study. This long span of data allows me to use economic history to explain, analyze, validate, and understand the results of convergence patterns in the region. I find more than one speed of convergence (clubs) related to the known historical background, country characteristics, and external shocks in the region. I study three important phases, following Thorp (1998): from 1900 to 1930, the exporting phase, from 1931 to 1974, the industrialization phase, and from 1975 to 2007, the globalization phase. During the last two phases, I find strong evidence of convergence among those countries that succeeded in industrializing and/or building good institutions. The reason is that technology dissusion and capital accumulation is easier when these 2 phenomena occur.
    Keywords: Latin America, economic history, convergence, growth
    JEL: N0 N16 O0 O40 O47
    Date: 2010–09–15
  3. By: Scott Fulford (Boston College)
    Abstract: How does banking affect development, and does banking affect all sectors equally, or change the structure of the economy? Since banking tends to grow with the rest of the economy, these questions are difficult to answer. This paper examines the growth of the national banking system from 1870-1900 during an important period in the financial and economic development of the United States. I create a new data set on individual banks and place them geographically. Minimum capital requirements limited the expansion of banks, and I use these requirements to identify the effects of additional banking. Banking was very important: the opening of a bank with the minimum capital increased total production by 12% for counties close to the dividing line between getting a bank and not. Both manufacturing and farming benefited, suggesting that the commercial, as opposed to investment, activities of banks were very important. Banks increased the inequality in farm size after a decade, largely through the expansion of larger farms, but had no affect on yields. Although the literature on banking often focuses on investment, commercial banking, either through direct currency creation or bills of exchange to facilitate the movement of goods, appears to be an important part of banking activities during development.
    Keywords: banking, development, bank capital
    JEL: O16 N21
    Date: 2010–09–01
  4. By: William J. Hausman (Department of Economics, The College of William and Mary); John L. Neufeld (Department of Economics, University of North Carolina, Greensboro); Till Schreiber (Department of Economics, The College of William and Mary)
    Abstract: Access to electricity is widely recognized as an essential element of economic development. This paper uses a comprehensive dataset on electrification aid projects to quantify and model the determinants of multilateral and bilateral electrification aid in the last three decades of the 20th century. Total annual electrification aid fluctuated substantially over the period. While multilateral and bilateral donors were relatively concentrated, aid recipients were widely dispersed. Our major finding is that electrification aid by the 1990s had moved marginally toward poorer countries, except for those in Africa, and toward countries with better governance structures and ones that had restructured their electric power sector. This likely reflected the liberalization and privatization policies affecting the industry from the mid-1980s on.
    Keywords: bilateral aid, development, electric power, energy, hydroelectric power,multilateral aid, World Bank
    JEL: L94 N70 N80 O13
    Date: 2010–09–16
  5. By: Vina Mazumdar
    Abstract: The women’s question, like the untouchability question or the communal question, emerged during the national movement as a political question that had to be solved to give shape to the vision of a free Indian nation. It is my contention that this political aspect of women’s equality or inequality has never received adequate attention from historians or other social scientists - a neglect which has helped to perpetuate many ambiguities, mis-conceptions and under-valuation of this issue. The primary role of women’s studies in the contemporary period is to rectify this neglect and to generate both empirical data and theoretical perspectives to place the issue in its proper context.
    Keywords: untouchability, communal question, national movement, historians, ambiguities, theoretical perspectives
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Leela Kasturi; Vina Mazumdar
    Abstract: The political role of women as a subject for research is of recent origin in India. It is significant that there are so few studies of women's role in the nationalist movement or of the implications-social or political-of their momentous entry into the public sphere. Important works on the national movement mostly fail to examine the significance of women's participation in the struggles. Analysis in this area so far has received insufficient attention in histories of India both before and after 1975 when the need to study women's role in history began to be acknowledged world-wide. One searches in vain for an adequate study of women's participation in nationalist historiography.
    Keywords: political, recent origin, India, national movement, nationalist historiography
    Date: 2010
  7. By: Rainer Forst
    Abstract: In current social conflicts in European societies such as the ones concerning the crucifix in classrooms or the foulard or the burka worn in public, toleration is a concept claimed by all involved. The paper uncovers the historical and conceptual reasons for such ambivalence about the notion of toleration. It starts from a conceptual analysis and then reconstructs two stories about toleration which lead to two different conceptions of it – the hierarchical permission conception and the democratic respect conception. The paper applies these to current conflicts and argues for an understanding of toleration based on a certain form of mutual respect despite deep ethical disagreement.
    Keywords: democracy; diversity/homogeneity; normative political theory
    Date: 2010–08–15
  8. By: Aidt, Toke; Albornoz, Facundo; Gassebner, Martin
    Abstract: In this paper we analyze the role of the IMF and the World Bank in triggering changes in the political regime, i.e., democracy and autocracy. We develop a theoretical model which predicts that anticipation of financial flows from international financial institutions may trigger political regime changes which would not take place otherwise. We test the implications of our model empirically and find support both for the role of perfectly foreseen IMF and World Bank programs and of the history of previous World Bank programs. The magnitude of this effects is quite substantial. --
    Keywords: political transitions,democracy,autocracy,political instability
    Date: 2010

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