New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2010‒10‒16
seventeen papers chosen by

  1. Living Standards and Mortality since the Middle Ages By Morgan Kelly; Cormac Ó Gráda
  2. The Electric Revolution in Latin America By Xavier Tafunell
  3. Intergenerational Wealth Accumulation and Dispersion in the Ottoman Empire: Observations from Eighteenth-Century Kastamonu By Metin Cosgel; Bogac A. Ergene
  4. Imagining Women's Social Space in Early Modern Keralam By J. Devika
  5. From an agrarian society to a knowledge economy: Portugal, 1950-2010 By Álvaro Santos Pereira; Pedro Lains
  6. The long-term patterns of regional income inequality in Spain (1860-2000) By Joan R. Rosés; Daniel A. Tirado; Julio Martínez-Galarraga
  7. Is China turning Latin? China’s balancing act between power and dependence on the wave of global imbalances By Fischer, A.M.
  8. Regulation in Ireland: History, Structure, Style and Reform By Ciara Brown; Colin Scott
  9. Competition and Productivity: Evidence from the Post WWII U.S. Cement Industry By Timothy Dunne; Shawn Klimek; James Schmitz, Jr.
  10. The Syrian Christians of Kerala: Demographic and Socioeconomic Transition in the Twentieth Century By K.C. Zachariah
  11. Above and beyond the call. Long-term real earnings effects of British male military conscription in the post-war years By Grenet, Julien; Hart, Robert A.; Roberts, J. Elizabeth
  12. Exports,growth and causality. New evidence on Italy: 1863-2004 By Barbara Pistoresi; Alberto Rinaldi
  13. Peasants and Formal Credit in Thiruvithamcore: The State Institutions and Social Structure 1914-1940 By T.T. Sreekumar
  14. The US Business Cycle Since 1950: A Post Keynesian Explanation By John Harvey
  15. Research for development : a World Bank perspective on future directions for research By Development Economics Senior Vice Presidency
  16. Why Have Girls Gone to College? A Quantitative Examination of the Female College Enrollment Rate in the United States: 1955-1980 By Hui He
  17. On Tax Efforts and Colonial Heritage in Africa By Mkandawire, Thandika

  1. By: Morgan Kelly (University College Dublin); Cormac Ó Gráda (University College Dublin)
    Abstract: Existing studies find little connection between living standards and mortality in England, but go back only to the sixteenth century. Using new data on inheritances, we extend estimates of mortality back to the mid-thirteenth century and find, by contrast, that deaths from unfree tenants to the nobility were strongly affected by harvests. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though real wages were falling, but persisted in London for another century despite its higher wages. In both cases the disappearance of the positive check coincided with the introduction of systematic poor relief, suggesting that government action played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.
    Keywords: economic growth, economic history, Malthus, demography
    Date: 2010–10–28
  2. By: Xavier Tafunell
    Abstract: Latin America participated in the electric revolution which profoundly transformed the most developed Western economies between 1880 and 1930. The electrification of Latin America began relatively soon after these economies, but it was incapable of keeping up with them. Public electric lighting was introduced early in the big Latin American cities, where electric trams started running at almost the same time as in Europe, and electricity spread rapidly in the mining sector. In the most advanced countries or areas in the region, the manufacturing industry substituted the steam engine with the electric motor, following the example of industry in the United States and Europe. Nevertheless, towards 1930 electricity consumption per inhabitant for Latin America was far below that of the more advanced economies, and only the Latin American countries which lead the process of electrification had reached levels of electric consumption that were similar to those of the late industrialised European countries. One of the most striking features of the electric revolution in Latin America is rooted precisely in the enormous national differences. These differences are indicative of the great economic inequalities existing in the heart of the region and these nations’ highly diverse capacity for economic modernisation.
    Keywords: Latin American Growth, Comparative Development, Technological Progress, Energy Transition, Electricity.
    JEL: N76 N16 O33 L94
    Date: 2010–09
  3. By: Metin Cosgel (University of Connecticut); Bogac A. Ergene (University of Vermont)
    Abstract: This article studies the accumulation and intergenerational transmission of wealth in early-modern Ottoman Anatolia by employing data from probate estate inventories (terekes) as found in the court records (sicils) of eighteenth-century Kastamonu, a town located in northern Anatolia. Extracting information on the wealth levels and personal characteristics of father-son pairs in the period between 1710 and 1806, we conduct regression analysis of factors determining the wealth of sons. In this first attempt to simultaneously analyze the estate inventories of parents and children in the Ottoman Empire, we also compare our results with those obtained for regions that were growing rapidly in this era and discuss the implications of our findings for the prospects of capital accumulation in the Ottoman context. Our results show that wealth holding was more equal in Kastamonu than in Britain in the eighteenth century. This was caused in part by the significantly lower transmission of wealth from fathers to sons. Although there was a significant correlation between the wealth-levels of fathers and sons in Kastamonu, this relationship was weaker there than what has been observed for eighteenth-century Britain. Regression to the mean among the sons was more rapid in Kastamonu. Finally, in at least one Ottoman context, our calculations cast doubt on the argument that Islamic inheritance practices led to excessive levels of wealth fragmentation.
    JEL: D3 E24 N3 O53 Z12
    Date: 2010–09
  4. By: J. Devika
    Abstract: The paper argues that the formation of modern gender identities in late 19th and early 20th Century Keralam was deeply implicated in the project of shaping governable subjects who were, at the one and same time, ‘free’ and already inserted into modern institutions. Because gender appeared both ‘natural’ and ‘social’, both ‘individualised’ and ‘general’, it appeared to be a superior form of social order compared to the established jati-based ordering. [Working Paper No. 329]
    Keywords: public sphere, gendering, individual, domestic, modernity, womanhood, non-coercive power
    Date: 2010
  5. By: Álvaro Santos Pereira; Pedro Lains
    Abstract: This paper surveys the main features of Portuguese economic growth in the last half century, with a particular emphasis on the period after the return to democracy in 1974. It shows that significant structural change and capital deepening were the chief sources of growth in the Portuguese economy until the mid 1970s. From then onwards, human capital accumulation and productivity growth were the main reasons behind Portugal’s economic fortunes. Growth declined between these two phases, as in the rest of Europe. In Portugal, it slowed further after 1990. After surveying the main causes of the slowdown of the Portuguese economy in the last decade, Portugal’s main human capital indicators are compared to other European and OECD economies. While Portugal has made a remarkable transition from an agrarian society to an industry- and service-based economy, the country still has not been able to successfully move on to a knowledge-based economy. Such a transition, however, is instrumental to spur economic growth on and to improve productivity.
    Keywords: Economic policies, Economic growth, Human Capital, Portugal
    JEL: N14 O43 O52
    Date: 2010–10
  6. By: Joan R. Rosés; Daniel A. Tirado; Julio Martínez-Galarraga
    Abstract: This paper studies the evolution of Spanish regional inequality from 1860 to 2000. The results point to the coexistence of two basic forces behind changes in regional economic inequality: differences in economic structure and labor productivity across regions. In the Spanish case, the initial expansion of industrialization during the period 1860-1900, in a context of growing economic integration of regions, promoted the spatial concentration of manufacturing in certain regions, which also benefited from the greatest advances in terms of labor productivity. Since 1900 and until 1985, the diffusion of manufacturing and services production to a greater number of locations generated the emulation of production structures and a process of catching-up in labor productivity and wages. So, in these first 125 years, national market integration and economic growth has been followed by a Ushaped evolution of regional incomes inequality. Nevertheless, some productivity differentials remained and, from 1985 on, the Spanish entry in the UE generated a new upsurge of divergence in productivity across Spanish regions that could be in the base of a new phase of regional income divergence.
    Keywords: Industrialization, Market integration, Heckscher-Ohlin Model, New economic geography
    JEL: N93 N94 R11
    Date: 2010–10
  7. By: Fischer, A.M.
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether China has escaped the vulnerabilities of peripheral and dependent late industrialisation in the build up to the current global economic crisis, with reference to structuralist critiques of Latin American industrialisation in the 1960s and examined through China’s balance of payments data. While it would seem that China’s huge surpluses amid sustained growth eliminate any comparative relevance to Latin America, the paper argues that analogous vulnerabilities exist. These were more evident before China’s spectacular surplus surge in the 2000s, although even in the midst of the surge, volatility on the capital account and in the errors of omissions was ominous. Changes on the trade account also reflect China’s relatively subordinate position within the massive rerouting of international production networks via China that followed the East Asian crisis, for the most part led by Northern transnational corporations. In sum, overly optimistic appraisals of China’s strength underestimate many of its persisting structural vulnerabilities as a contemporary developing country and distract attention away from important lessons for other developing countries.
    Keywords: China;global imbalances;balance of payments;late industrialisation;international production networks;transnational corporations;structuralism
    Date: 2010–02–01
  8. By: Ciara Brown (UCD Centre for Regulation and Governance); Colin Scott (UCD Centre for Regulation and Governance)
    Date: 2010–10–01
  9. By: Timothy Dunne; Shawn Klimek; James Schmitz, Jr.
    Abstract: In the mid 1980s, the U.S. cement industry faced a large increase in foreign competition. Foreign cement producers began offering cement at very large discounts on U.S. prices. We show that productivity (measured by TFP) in the industry was falling during the 1960s and 1970s, but that following the increase in competition, productivity has reversed course and is growing strongly. When foreign competition was weak, productivity fell. When it was strong, productivity grew robustly. We explore the reasons for the large productivity increase. We argue that a large share of the productivity gains resulted from significant changes in management practices at plants.
    Date: 2010–09
  10. By: K.C. Zachariah
    Abstract: The twentieth century has witnessed a process of significant transition of the Syrian Christian community in Kerala in terms of its demographic and socio-economic status. In this paper, the transition of the demographic structure is discussed in terms of size, composition, geographic distribution and growth rates and the underlying factors of transition comprising fertility, mortality, and migration. [Working Paper No. 322]
    Keywords: twentieth century, Syrian Christian, Kerala, demographic, socio-economic status, size, composition, geographic distribution, fertility, mortality,
    Date: 2010
  11. By: Grenet, Julien; Hart, Robert A.; Roberts, J. Elizabeth
    Abstract: We add to the literature on the long-term economic effects of male military service. We concentrate on post-war British conscription into the armed services from 1949 to 1960. It was called National Service and applied to males aged 18 to 26. Based on a regression discontinuity design we estimate the effect of military service on the earnings of those required to serve through conscription. We argue that, in general, we should not expect to find large long-term real earnings among conscripts compared to later birth cohorts of males who were not eligible for call-up. Our empirical evidence firmly rejects the view that conscription entails relative long-term real earnings differences.
    Keywords: regression discontinuity design; long-term real earnings; WWII conscription; National Service
    Date: 2010–08
  12. By: Barbara Pistoresi; Alberto Rinaldi
    Abstract: This paper investigates the causal relationship between real export and real GDP in Italy from 1863 to 2004 by using cointegration analysis and causality tests. The outcome suggests that in the period prior to WW1 the growth of the Italian economy led that of exports, while in the post-WW2 period the causal relationship was reversed with the expansion of exports that determined the growth of the Italian economy.
    Keywords: Export led growth hypothesis; unit root tests; cointegration analysis; Granger – causality
    JEL: F43 O11 N1 N7
    Date: 2010–09
  13. By: T.T. Sreekumar
    Abstract: Considerations of credit mechanism as a suitable mode of appropriation of surplus, compared to rent, explains to a great extent the motivation, behind state intervention in the money market in peasant society. [Working Paper No. 264]
    Keywords: mechanism, credit, appropriation, surplus, motivation, motivation, motivation,
    Date: 2010
  14. By: John Harvey (Department of Economics, Texas Christian University)
    Abstract: That the economy goes through periods of expansion and recession is obvious. Whether or not this represents endogenously-generated cycles or simply stochastic variation around a trend is, however, a matter of debate. Among mainstream economists, the latter is the predominant position. For Post Keynesians, however, business cycles are a manifestation of the systemic instability inherent to the capitalist system. Endogenous fluctuations in investment spending lie at the heart of the shift from expansion to recession and while various shocks and government policies can, of course, have an impact, they are unnecessary to create the patterns we see. This paper offers evidence in support of the Post Keynesian position by tracing the US business cycle since 1950. With a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence, it is demonstrated that, from the Korean War cycle to our current financial crisis, the central factor has been the rise and fall in investment. The complete story cannot be told without reference to fiscal and monetary policy, oil shocks, strikes, and so on–but most of it can.
    Keywords: business cycle, Keynes, Post Keynesian
    JEL: E12 E13 E32
    Date: 2010–08
  15. By: Development Economics Senior Vice Presidency
    Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the history of development research at the World Bank and points to new future directions in both what we research and how we research. Six main messages emerge. First, research and data have long been essential elements of the Bank's country programs and its contributions to global public goods, and this will remain the case. Second, development thinking is in a state of flux and uncertainty; it is time to reconsider both the Bank's research priorities and how it does research. Third, a more open and strategic approach to research is needed -- an approach that is firmly grounded in the key knowledge gaps for development policy emerging from the experiences of developing countries, including the questions that policy makers in those countries ask. Fourth, four major sets of problems merit high priority for our future research: (i) securing economic transformation; (ii) broadening opportunities to participate in the benefits of, and contribute to, such transformation; (iii) dealing with emerging risks at all levels; and (iv) assessing the results of development efforts, including external assistance. Fifth, a new multi-polar world requires a new multi-polar approach to knowledge; the Bank must learn from, and collaborate with, developing-country researchers and institutes. Sixth, greater emphasis must be given to producing the data and analytic tools for others to do the research themselves and providing open access to those tools. And open data initiative needs to be extended to open knowledge. This will better inform development policy debates and allow for deeper engagement with the direct stakeholders in the outcomes of those debates.
    Keywords: Banks&Banking Reform,ICT Policy and Strategies,Tertiary Education,Economic Theory&Research,Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems
    Date: 2010–09–01
  16. By: Hui He (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper documents a dramatic increase in the college enrollment rate of women from 1955 to 1980 and asks a quantitative question: to what extent can such increase be accounted for by the change in the female cohort-specific college wage premium? I develop and calibrate an overlapping generations model with discrete schooling choice. I find that changes in the life-cycle earnings differential can explain the increase in the female college enrollment rate very well. Young women's changing expectations of future earnings may also play an important role in driving their college attendance decision.
    Keywords: Female College Enrollment rate, College Wage Premium, Life-cycle
    JEL: E24 J24 J31 I21
    Date: 2010–09–17
  17. By: Mkandawire, Thandika (London School of Economics and Political Science. Department of International Development)
    Abstract: <p> One commonly observed phenomena about taxation in Africa are regional differences and the fact that southern African countries have higher levels of shares of taxation in GDP. This article argues that the major source of differences in ‘tax effort’ is the colonial histories of various countries. Using standard measures of ‘tax effort in a panel data framework and dividing colonial Africa along forms of incorporation into the colonial system, it shows that African countries and others with similar colonial histories have higher levels of ‘tax effort’. However, the difference disappears when we control for the colonial factor. These results hold under different model specifications. <p>
    Keywords: taxation; GDP; regional differences; colonial histories; tax effort;
    JEL: O20 O40 O55
    Date: 2010–10–05

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