nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2013‒01‒12
fourteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
Bangor University

  1. Economic ideas of a nineteenth century Tunisian statesman: Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi By Islahi, Abdul Azim
  2. Real wages and the origins of modern economic growth in Germany By Uebele, Martin; Pfister, Ulrich; Riedel, Jana
  3. Human capital in Qing China: economic determinism or a history of failed opportunities? By Xu, Yi; Foldvari, Peter; Van Leeuwen, Bas
  4. Government Is Whose Problem? By Jon D. Wisman
  5. Today's Standards and Yesterday's Economics - Two Short Occasional Essays: Eliminating History from Economic Thought and Mark Blaug on the Quantity Theory By David Laidler
  6. Education as a driver of income inequality in twentieth-century Africa By Van Leeuwen, Bas; van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli; Foldvari, Peter
  7. Repudiation: The Crisis of United States Civil War Debt, 1865-1870 By Noll, Franklin
  8. Picking Winners? The Effect of Birth Order and Migration on Parental Human Capital Investments in Pre-Modern England By Marc Klemp; Chris Minns; Patrick Wallis; Jacob Weisdorf
  9. Writing Sociology at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century By João Carlos Graça; Rafael Marques
  10. Climate Shocks, State Capacity, and Peasant Uprisings in North China during 25-1911 CE By Qiang Chen
  11. Review of Theories of Financial Crises By Itay Goldstein; Assaf Razin
  12. Okun's Law: Fit at Fifty? By Laurence M. Ball; Daniel Leigh; Prakash Loungani
  13. Nine Facts about Top Journals in Economics By David Card; Stefano DellaVigna
  14. The Role of Female Agency in Politics: A Global Study, 1850-2000 By Selin Dilli

  1. By: Islahi, Abdul Azim
    Abstract: Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi, a nineteenth century Tunisian scholar and statesman, thought and worked for her politico-economic strengthening and uplift of Tunisia. He was much impressed by the political system of the West and endeavored to create similar political institutions in his own country. In his work Aqwam al-Masalik fi Ma`rifat Ahwal al-Mamalik (The Surest Path to Knowledge Concerning the Condition of Countries) discussed the economic superiority of the West and offered an agenda for Tunisia to improve its economic and political system. Al-Tunisi’s economic ideas appear quite close to the classical European political economy.
    Keywords: Economic ideas of Khair al-din al-Tunisi; History of Islamic Economic thought; Muslim Economic thinking in the 19th century; Maslahah; Capitulation; Ottomans
    JEL: B10 B31 B00
    Date: 2012
  2. By: Uebele, Martin; Pfister, Ulrich; Riedel, Jana
    Abstract: The study develops two new real wages series for Germany c. 1500-1850 and analyzes their relationship with population size. From 1690 data density allows the estimation of a structural time series model of this relationship. The major results are the following: First, there was a strong negative relationship between population and the real wage until the middle of the seventeenth century. The dramatic rise of material welfare during the Thirty Years War was thus entirely due to the war-related population loss. Second, the relationship between the real wage and population size was much weaker in the eighteenth than in the sixteenth century; the fall of the marginal product of labor was less pronounced, and the beginning of the eighteenth century saw a marked increase of labour demand. Third, labor productivity underwent a strong positive shock during the late 1810s and early 1820s, and continued to rise at a weaker pace during the following decades. This growth was only temporarily interrupted by negative shocks uring the late 1840s and early 1850s. Results two and three suggest the onset of sustained economic growth well before the beginnings of industrialization, which set in during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. --
    JEL: C32 J20 N13
    Date: 2012
  3. By: Xu, Yi; Foldvari, Peter; Van Leeuwen, Bas
    Abstract: The traditional education system in Qing China has been widely debated over the past decades. Some have argued it was efficient and furthered economic growth, while others have stressed its inefficient nature, which led to the introduction of the modern education system in the closing decades of the 19th century, followed by its total collapse in 1905. In this paper we make a first try to quantify above debate. Starting from the observation that below the well-known civil examination system there existed a whole system of popular and vocational education, we find that years of education in the population were still lower than in many European countries. More interestingly, whereas in European countries years of education increased strongly in the 19th century, our estimates of average years of education and the ABCC indices show that the level of education remained stable well into the 1920s when it accelerated. However, the main rise only occurred during the late 20th century. This finding leads to an interesting question since per capita income only started to grow significantly since the 1950s. This means that the rise of education since the mid-1920s was not as such driven by per capita income. Apparently this was the same for both the traditional and modern education since the latter had already started to transform Chinese education from the 1890s onwards. Hence, we have to look at the question why persons decided to follow education, i.e. was it individually profitable to follow education (positive private returns)? However, testing for this latter hypothesis shows that, after correction for foregone earnings, life expectancy, and probability of passing the exams, only the below shengyuan level students actually had positive returns. For an ordinary person it was therefore uneconomical to join in the civil examination system. Apparently this did not change, not even after the introduction of the modern education system, until the 1950s.
    Keywords: human capital; China; private returns; economic development
    JEL: I21 N15
    Date: 2013–01–02
  4. By: Jon D. Wisman
    Abstract: This article addresses the political meaning of President Ronald Reagan's 1981 declaration that "government is the problem." Whereas historically the state had been used by elites to extract as much surplus as possible from producers, with democratization of the franchise, the state became the sole instrument that could limit, or even potentially end, the extraction of workers' surplus. Once control of the state is in principle democratized by the ballot box, the fortunes of the elite depend solely upon controlling ideology. In 1955, Simon Kuznets offered the highly influential conjecture that while rising inequality characterizes early economic development, advanced development promises greater equality. However, rising inequality in most wealthy countries over the past four decades has challenged this hypothesis. What those who embraced Kuznets' conjecture failed to recognize is the dynamics by which the rich, with their far greater command over resources, education, and status, inevitably regain control over ideology and thereby the state. Over the course of history, only the very severe crisis of the 1930s discredited their ideology and led to a sustained period of rising equality. However, by 1980 they had regained ideological ascendancy. This article examines how this struggle over ideology has unfolded in the U.S. since the democratization of the franchise in the late nineteenth century. It concludes with reflections on whether the current crisis holds promise of again de-legitimating the elites' hold on power and ushering in another period of rising equality.
    Keywords: Inequality, ideology, class power, democracy, Kuznets' curve.
    JEL: B00 N32 N42 O15 Z13
    Date: 2013
  5. By: David Laidler (University of Western Ontario)
    Abstract: The first of these essays was written for a happy occasion – my acceptance of honorary membership in the European Society for the History of Economic Thought. The second marked an altogether sadder event - the death of Mark Blaug. Though at first sight their topics are very different, both in fact deal with some of the limitations inherent in applying contemporary criteria, in the first case those of modern equilibrium modeling, and in the second, those of empirically oriented positive economics, to understanding and assessing the economics of the past.
    Keywords: Time; Progress; Empirical Evidence; True Model; Rational Expectations; Money; Quantity Theory; Value Theory; Positive Economics; Empiricism; Formalism; Bimetallism; Gold Standard; Monetarism
    JEL: A10 B1 B2 B10 B31
    Date: 2012
  6. By: Van Leeuwen, Bas; van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli; Foldvari, Peter
    Abstract: In this paper, we address the issue of how education affected income inequality in twentieth-century Africa. Three channels are identified through which education may affect income inequality. First, an increase in the average educational level is correlated with an increase in average income, which, ceteris paribus, reduces inequality. Second, a reduction in educational inequality may, given a positive correlation between education level and income, reduce income inequality. Thirdly, an increase in the supply of education may decrease the price of skilled labour thus lowering income inequality. We find that in the long-run education does not affect income growth, indicating that in twentieth-century Africa it was inspiration (i.e., Total Factor Productivity [TFP]) rather than perspiration (i.e., education and physical capital) that drove economic development. Testing for the effects of the remaining two channels, we found a significant non-linear relationship between educational and income inequality suggesting that, contrary to the level of education, these two channels were important in determining income inequality in Africa. Taking an example from the end of the twentieth century, if educational equality had been eliminated, then income inequality would decline by no less than 81%.
    Keywords: Africa; education; history; inequality; economic growth
    JEL: N1 O55 D6 N3 N17
    Date: 2012–10–20
  7. By: Noll, Franklin
    Abstract: From 1865 to 1870, a crisis atmosphere hovered around the issue of the massive public debt created during the recently concluded Civil War, leading, in part, to the passage of a Constitutional Amendment ensuring the “validity of the public debt.” However, the Civil War debt crisis was not a financial one, but a political one. The Republican and Democratic Parties took concerns over the public debt and magnified them into panics so that they could serve political ends—there was never any real danger that the United States would default on its debt for financial reasons. There were, in fact, three interrelated crises generated during the period: a repudiation crisis (grounded upon fears of the cancellation of the war debt), a repayment crisis (arising from calls to repay the debt in depreciated currency), and a refunding crisis (stemming from a concern of a run on the Treasury). The end of the Civil War debt crisis came only when there was no more political advantage to be gained from exploiting the issue of the public debt.
    Keywords: debt crisis; united states; civil war; 1865; politics
    JEL: N42 H63 H6
    Date: 2012–12
  8. By: Marc Klemp; Chris Minns; Patrick Wallis; Jacob Weisdorf (University of Copenhagen, LSE, and University of Southern Denmark)
    Abstract: This paper uses linked apprenticeship-family reconstitution records to explore the influence of family structure on human capital formation in preindustrial England. We observe a small but significant relationship between birth order, resources and human capital investments. Among the gentry, eldest sons were almost never apprenticed. Outside the gentry, a large number of apprentices were eldest sons, even from farming families. This Implies a relatively large place for a child’s aptitude and interest in shaping their career compared to custom or inheritance practices, making the “middling sorts” behave much more as families do in presentday labour studies than the contemporary elites. We also find a surprisingly high rate of return migration, questioning the emphasis on neo-locality and suggesting that parents could anticipate benefiting directly from positive externalities arising from the training provided to children. This interpretation also fits well with our finding that if parents had died before indenture, apprentices were significantly less likely to return home.
    Keywords: Apprenticeship, Family Structure, Human Capital, Preindustrial England, Primogeniture
    Date: 2013–01
  9. By: João Carlos Graça; Rafael Marques
    Abstract: Paul Veyne has suggested in 1971 that Sociology lacked a study object. Three quarters of a century after Durkheim’s Rules, it had yet to discover social types and orders of preponderant facts. At any rate, Veyne claimed, since Sociology or at least sociologists exist, we must conclude that, under that label, they do something else. Briefly, besides studying the logical conditions of Sociology, we should also sociologically consider it, as well as other neighbour and potentially rival disciplines. In this paper it is argued that, contrary to other scientific fields, Sociology lives in an environment of permanently renewed crisis. Different authors and traditions have indeed asserted exactly that, while based on entirely diverse assumptions. In order to justify the characteristic traits of today’s crisis, we try to list some of the little demons that have contributed to the current situation: 1) The hagiographic syndrome; 2) The isomorphism defence; 3) The acceptance urge.
    Keywords: Sociological theory, economics, history, crisis, hagiography, isomorphism, recognition
    JEL: A14
    Date: 2012–03
  10. By: Qiang Chen (School of Economics, Shandong University)
    Abstract: China provides an interesting case study of civil conflict because of her long history and rich records. Using a unique dynastic panel dataset for north China during 25-1911 CE, this study finds that severe famines and dynastic age were positively correlated with peasant uprisings, whereas government disaster relief as a proxy for state capacity played a significant mitigating role. Negative climate shocks (e.g., severe drought, locust plagues) affected peasant uprisings primarily through the channel of severe famines. The effects of population density, temperature, and other climate shocks (e.g., flood, levee breaches, snow disasters, and frost) were either not robust or insignificant.
    JEL: N45 O1
    Date: 2013–01
  11. By: Itay Goldstein; Assaf Razin
    Abstract: In this paper, we review three branches of theoretical literature on financial crises. The first one deals with banking crises originating from coordination failures among bank creditors. The second one deals with frictions in credit and interbank markets due to problems of moral hazard and adverse selection. The third one deals with currency crises. We discuss the evolutions of these branches of the literature and how they have been integrated recently to explain the turmoil in the world economy. We discuss the relation of the models to the empirical evidence and their ability to guide policies to avoid or mitigate future crises.
    JEL: E61 F3 F33 G01 G1
    Date: 2013–01
  12. By: Laurence M. Ball; Daniel Leigh; Prakash Loungani
    Abstract: This paper asks how well Okun’s Law fits short-run unemployment movements in the United States since 1948 and in twenty advanced economies since 1980. We find that Okun’s Law is a strong and stable relationship in most countries, one that did not change substantially during the Great Recession. Accounts of breakdowns in the Law, such as the emergence of “jobless recoveries,” are flawed. We also find that the coefficient in the relationship—the effect of a one percent change in output on the unemployment rate—varies substantially across countries. This variation is partly explained by idiosyncratic features of national labor markets, but it is not related to differences in employment protection legislation.
    JEL: E24 E32
    Date: 2013–01
  13. By: David Card; Stefano DellaVigna
    Abstract: How has publishing in top economics journals changed since 1970? Using a data set that combines information on all articles published in the top-5 journals from 1970 to 2012 with their Google Scholar citations, we identify nine key trends. First, annual submissions to the top-5 journals nearly doubled from 1990 to 2012. Second, the total number of articles published in these journals actually declined from 400 per year in the late 1970s to 300 per year most recently. As a result, the acceptance rate has fallen from 15% to 6%, with potential implications for the career progression of young scholars. Third, one journal, the American Economic Review, now accounts for 40% of top-5 publications, up from 25% in the 1970s. Fourth, recently published papers are on average 3 times longer than they were in the 1970s, contributing to the relative shortage of journal space. Fifth, the number of authors per paper has increased from 1.3 in 1970 to 2.3 in 2012, partly offsetting the fall in the number of articles per year. Sixth, citations for top-5 publications are high: among papers published in the late 1990s, the median number of Google Scholar citations is 200. Seventh, the ranking of journals by citations has remained relatively stable, with the notable exception of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which climbed from fourth place to first place over the past three decades. Eighth, citation counts are significantly higher for longer papers and those written by more co-authors. Ninth, although the fraction of articles from different fields published in the top-5 has remained relatively stable, there are important cohort trends in the citations received by papers from different fields, with rising citations to more recent papers in Development and International, and declining citations to recent papers in Econometrics and Theory.
    JEL: A1 A11
    Date: 2013–01
  14. By: Selin Dilli (Universiteit Utrecht)
    Abstract: Over the last 200 years, an upward trend in democracy has been observed both cross-nationally and within nations. Previous studies attributed a major role to the developmental, historical, and more recently diffusional characteristics in explaining this democratization process. Although these predictors are robust predictors of democracy, they neglect the role of gender inequalities in democratic outcomes. In its attempt to overcome this shortcoming, this study introduces the concept of “female agency” to study the impact of gender inequalities on the democratization process. The results of both panel data and cross sectional data analysis show that women’s unequal position, both in the private and in the public sphere, are meaningful sources of explanation for within and cross national differences in democracy. This implies that future studies in democratization should include a gendered and capability perspective to have a full understanding of the underlying mechanisms.
    Keywords: female agency, women's empowerment, democracy, political outcomes
    Date: 2013–01

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