nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2011‒07‒02
eleven papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
Bangor University

  1. Was Mechanization De-Skilling? The Origins of Task-Biased Technical Change By James Bessen
  2. The end of plantation? Coffee and land inequality in early twentieth century São Paulo By Colistete, Renato P.; Lamounier, Maria Lucia
  3. The Emergence of Wage Discrimination in U.S. Manufacturing By Joyce Burnette
  4. Inherited vs Self-Made Wealth: Theory and Evidence from a Rentier Society (Paris 1872-1937) By Thomas Piketty; Gilles Postel-Vinay; Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
  5. Tariff growth paradox between 1850 and 1913: a critical survey (In French) By Stéphane BECUWE (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113); Bertrand BLANCHETON (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113
  6. Beyond the market-institutions dichotomy: The institutionalism of Douglass C. North in response to Karl Polanyi's challenge By Claude Didry; Caroline Vincensini
  7. How Do Mortgage Subsidies Affect Home Ownership? Evidence from the Mid-century GI Bills By Daniel K. Fetter
  8. Severance pay programs around the world : history, rationale, status, and reforms By Holzmann, Robert; Pouget, Yann; Vodopivec, Milan; Weber, Michael
  9. Estimación del Producto Interno Bruto regional: el caso de la provincia de Salta (Argentina) 1880-1930 By Eduardo Antonelli
  10. Από την Οικονομική Άνθηση στην Κρίση του 1930 By Tsoulfidis, Lefteris
  11. Gestación y desarrollo de la hegemonía de las formas y mecanismos de valorización financiero y especulativo: desde la época de 1970 hasta la crisis ac By Abelardo Mariña Flores; Giannina Ninnette Torres Ramírez

  1. By: James Bessen (Research on Innovation, Boston University School of Law, Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard))
    Abstract: Did nineteenth century technology reduce demand for skilled workers in contrast to modern technology? I obtain direct evidence on human capital investments and the returns to skill by using micro-data on individual weavers and an engineering production function. Weavers learned substantially on the job. While mechanization eliminated some tasks and the associated skills, it increased returns to skill on the remaining tasks. Technical change was task-biased, much as with computer technology. As more tasks were automated, weavers’ human capital increased substantially. Although technology increased the demand for skill like today, weavers’ wages eventually increased and inequality decreased, contrary to current trends.
    Keywords: skill-biased technical change, technology, mechanization, human capital, wage inequality, learning-by-doing
    JEL: J31 N31 O33
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Colistete, Renato P.; Lamounier, Maria Lucia
    Abstract: This paper examines the concentration of land ownership in the leading coffee export region in the early twentieth century, the northeast area of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Critics of the so-called plantationist perspective have rejected the classic view that large estates shaped colonial and nineteenth century Brazilian economy and society, arguing instead for a major role of small and medium-sized landholdings. We describe the size distribution of landholdings and estimate alternative measures of land concentration based on a detailed agricultural census of the state of São Paulo. We find that, despite variation across municipalities, large farms and latifundia controlled most of the productive resources in northeast São Paulo, resulting in high levels of inequality when compared to those of other agrarian societies in the past. These results contrast with the view of the critics of classic historiography and suggest that the large estate and high concentration of wealth were remarkable features at least in the most important coffee region in Brazil during the early twentieth century.
    Keywords: Land inequality; coffee plantations; Gini index; Generalized Entropy indexes; São Paulo; Brazil
    JEL: O18 Q15 O13 R14 N56
    Date: 2011–05–05
  3. By: Joyce Burnette
    Abstract: This paper examines the hypothesis that wage discrimination emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century. I test for wage discrimination by estimating the female-male productivity ratio from samples of manufacturing firms in the northeast, and then comparing the estimated productivity ratio to the wage ratio. I find that women did not face wage discrimination in manufacturing during the nineteenth century. In 1900 there was wage discrimination against women in white-collar jobs, but not in blue-collar jobs. Wage discrimination persisted, and in 2002 the female-male wage ratio was less than the productivity ratio.
    Date: 2011–06
  4. By: Thomas Piketty (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris - INRA, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris); Gilles Postel-Vinay (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris - INRA, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris); Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (CS CALTECH - Computer Science Department - California Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: This paper divides the population into two groups: the "inheritors" or "rentiers" (whose wealth is smaller than the capitalized value of their inherited wealth, i.e. who consumed more than their labor income during their lifetime); and the "savers" or "self-made men" (whose wealth is larger than the capitalized value of their inherited wealth, i.e. who consumed less than their labor income). Applying this simple theoretical model to a unique micro data set on inheritance and matrimonial property regimes, we find that Paris in 1872-1937 looks like a prototype "rentier society". Rentiers made about 10% of the population of Parisians but owned 70% of aggregate wealth. Rentier societies thrive when the rate of return on private wealth ris permanently and substantially larger than the growth rate g (say, r=4%-5% vs g=1%-2%). This was the case in the 19th century and early 20th century and is likely to happen again in the 21st century. In such cases top successors, by consuming part of the return to their inherited wealth, can sustain living standards far beyond what labor income alone would permit.
    Keywords: rentier society ;
    Date: 2011–06
  5. By: Stéphane BECUWE (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113); Bertrand BLANCHETON (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113
    Abstract: This article offers a critical analysis of the many contributions on ‘tariff-growth paradox’ (or Bairoch paradox) since 1972. The publication in 2000 of O\'Rourke paper’s has reconsidered the debate on the linkages between trade policy and economic growth between 1870 and 1914. The question was explored using new econometric techniques, often in the background of new theoretical foundations for growth. The results converge to a positive correlation between tariffs and growth for European countries most advanced and European Offshoots (such as Canada, Australia, Argentina…). Two tracks are converging explanatory priority: the quality of institutions of its country and the ability to choose the protected areas (bearing strong externalities). But this hypothesis of the relevance of sectoral protectionism hardly be validated by the analysis in terms of effective protection, which remains very fragmented, study only a few sectors, a few historical landmarks and do not in existence at the time of a tariff dispersion by origin of goods.
    Keywords: trade policy, tariff, effective protection, history of globalization.
    JEL: N7
    Date: 2011
  6. By: Claude Didry (IDHE - Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l'Economie - CNRS : UMR8533 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I - Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis - Université de Paris X - Nanterre - École normale supérieure de Cachan - ENS Cachan); Caroline Vincensini (IDHE - Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l'Economie - CNRS : UMR8533 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I - Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint Denis - Université de Paris X - Nanterre - École normale supérieure de Cachan - ENS Cachan)
    Abstract: On the basis of the "challenge" North [1997 (1977)] identified in the works of Polanyi, we propose to outline the originality of North's institutionalism, especially in comparison with "new institutionalism" in economics as well as in sociology. Far from endorsing the dichotomy between market and non market dimensions of economic activities at the basis of the analyses of Williamson and Granovetter, North's definition of institutions as "rules of the game" allows him to conceive of institutions as the institutional foundations of the market and therefore as explanatory principles of historical dynamics.
    Keywords: institutions, institutionalism, North, Polanyi, Williamson, Granovetter
    Date: 2011–03–02
  7. By: Daniel K. Fetter
    Abstract: The sharpest increase in U.S. home ownership over the last century occurred between 1940 and 1960, associated primarily with a decrease in the age at first ownership. To shed light on the contribution of several coincident large-scale government interventions in housing finance, I examine veterans' home loan benefits provided under the postwar GI Bills. I use two breaks in the probability of military service by date of birth, for cohorts coming of age at the end of World War II and the Korean War, to estimate the impact of veteran status on home ownership. I find significant, positive effects of veteran status on home ownership in 1960. Consistent with a model in which the impact of easier loan terms declines with age, these effects are larger for younger veterans and diminish in 1970 and 1980 as the cohorts age. Complementary evidence suggests veterans' non-housing benefits and military service itself are unlikely to explain the observed differences in home ownership. Veterans' housing benefits appear to have increased aggregate home ownership rates primarily by shifting purchase earlier in life; they can explain approximately 7.4 percent of the increase in aggregate home ownership from 1940 to 1960, and 25 percent of the increase for the affected cohorts.
    JEL: N00 N22 N92 R00
    Date: 2011–06
  8. By: Holzmann, Robert; Pouget, Yann; Vodopivec, Milan; Weber, Michael
    Abstract: The paper examines severance pay programs around the world by providing the first ever overview of existing programs, examining their historic development, assessing their economic rationale and describing current reform attempts. While a significant part of the paper is devoted to a comprehensive 183 cross country review of existing severance arrangements and their characteristics, the paper goes beyond a mere description. It develops and empirically tests three hypotheses about the economic rationale of the program, namely severance pay being: (i) a primitive income protection program, (ii) an efficiency enhancing human resource instrument, and (iii) a job protection instrument. The paper also reviews the recent reforms of Austria, Chile, Italy, and Korea.
    Keywords: Labor Policies,Labor Markets,Wages, Compensation&Benefits,Economic Theory&Research,Social Protections&Assistance
    Date: 2011–05–22
  9. By: Eduardo Antonelli
    Abstract: El aparato teórico de la macroeconomía está referido a una nación, no a provincias o regiones de su interior. De tal manera, el producto bruto geográfico (PBG), o la balanza de pagos, por ejemplo, no suelen ser calculados con regularidad, o directamente no son calculados en absoluto por las provincias. El presente trabajo está referido a los procedimientos para la obtención del PBG en Salta, Argentina, en especial para el período 1880-1930.
    Date: 2010–11–30
  10. By: Tsoulfidis, Lefteris
    Abstract: This chapter starts with a discussion of the economic situation in the USA and UK in the 1920s and 1930s and argues that the fundamentals of these two economies in the 1920s were already in a bad shape. In fact, we show that in the US economy the fall in the rate of profit and the stagnation of the mass of real profits preceded the collapse of the stock market in the 1929 and the depression of 1930s. The discussion continues with the economic and political situation in the case of the Greek economy and the way in which she was affected by the depression. From the study of the Greek economy in the 1930s, we derive some useful conclusions that may shed new light to the current depression and debt problems of the Greek economy.
    Keywords: Depression of 1930s; Gold exchange standard; Greek economy; debt default
    JEL: B14 N20 N14
    Date: 2010–12–06
  11. By: Abelardo Mariña Flores; Giannina Ninnette Torres Ramírez
    Abstract: En este trabajo se analiza la gestación y el desarrollo general en el plano de la economía mundial de la hegemonía de las formas y los mecanismos de valorización financieros y especulativos desde la década de 1970 hasta la crisis actual, identificando sus distintas etapas. Asimismo, se examina el curso de la crisis actual: el inicio de la recesión mundial al final de 2007, su desarrollo como una crisis general capitalista, su transmutación al final de 2008 en una depresión de escala mundial y su atenuación desde la segunda mitad de 2009. También se argumenta sobre los límites de la hegemonía financiera y especulativa a partir de los principales efectos de su desarrollo sobre la marcha de la economía mundial en las últimas cuatro décadas. Finalmente, se presenta una síntesis de conclusiones y una reflexión general sobre las perspectivas de la economía mundial.
    Date: 2010–11–30

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