nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2016‒06‒04
twenty papers chosen by

  1. 'The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature’: Economic-historical Reflections on Famine By Cormac Ó Gráda
  2. Greek Sovereign Defaults in Retrospect and Prospect By Tsoulfidis, Lefteris; Zouboulakis, Michel
  3. La lucha de los "rabassaires": análisis de largo plazo de un movimiento social y político By Josep Colomé; Jordi Planas; Raimon Soler-Becerro
  4. Progress and the Lack of Progress in Addressing Infant Health and Infant Health Inequalities in Ireland during the 20th Century By Mark E. McGovern
  5. Can an interdisciplinary field contribute to one of the parent disciplines from which it emerged? By Anirban Chakraborti; Dhruv Raina; Kiran Sharma
  6. Human Learning and Modern Economic growth: What is the Connection? By Gianpaolo Mariutti
  7. When is an oligarchy formed? The origins and evolution of an elite. Barcelona 1850-1920. By Jose Miguel Sanjuan Marroquin
  9. State and Development: A Historical Study of Europe from 0 AD to 2000 AD By S.P. Harish; Christopher Paik
  10. Constraining the Samurai: Rebellion and Taxation in Early Modern Japan By Christopher Paik; Abbey Steele; Seiki Tanaka
  11. The cultural diffusion of the fertility transition: evidence from internal migration in 19 th century France By Guillaume Daudin; Raphaël Franck; Hillel Rapoport
  12. Migrant Networks and Trade: The Vietnamese Boat People as a Natural Experiment By Christopher Parsons; Pierre-Louis Vézina
  13. Large Depreciations: Recent Experience in Historical Perspective By Jose De Gregorio
  14. Wealth, marriage and prenuptial agreements in France (1855 - 2010) By Nicolas Frémeaux; Marion Leturcq
  16. La Reichsbank, une banque de guerre ? By Claude Diebolt
  17. The long-term health benefits of receiving treatment from qualified midwives at birth By Lazuka, Volha
  18. The "Schumpeterian" and the "Keynesian" Stiglitz: Learning, Coordination Hurdles and Growth Trajectories By Giovanni Dosi; Maria Enrica Virgillito

  1. By: Cormac Ó Gráda
    Abstract: The lecture paper focuses on some topics that remain current in famine studies. First, it reviews the link between food prices and the severity of famines as reflected in excess mortality. Second, it places the death tolls from several recent famines in sub-Saharan Africa in historical context. Third, it reviews the impact of famines on fertility. Famines are always associated with a reduction in births; but to what extent are those births lost or births postponed? Fourth, it reviews the literature that invokes famines as a testing ground for the foetal origins hypothesis. Finally, it reviews the prospect of a near future in which famines have been consigned to history.
    Keywords: Famine; Malnutrition
    JEL: N1 O1 J13
    Date: 2016–03
  2. By: Tsoulfidis, Lefteris; Zouboulakis, Michel
    Abstract: This article presents and critically evaluates the four Greek sovereign defaults (1827, 1843, 1893 and 1932) and puts them into a historical perspective. The argument is that each and every of the defaults was not an isolated episode in the turbulent economic history of capitalism, but rather a manifestation of the internal weaknesses of the Greek economy which were magnified during the downturn phases of the long waves of 1815-1845, 1873-1896, and 1921–1940. Crucial for the precipitation of these defaults were the short-sighted and often opportunistic policies followed by the Greek governments which were eager to increase public spending based on borrowed money which lead to mounting public debt. As a consequence, the past Greek sovereign defaults are worth studying in an effort to derive useful lessons and policy conclusions for the current and also future situations.
    Keywords: Sovereign default, depressions, long waves, Greek economy
    JEL: B10 B50 F34 N14 N2 N24
    Date: 2016–05–22
  3. By: Josep Colomé; Jordi Planas; Raimon Soler-Becerro
    Abstract: In 1964, Emili Giralt described the ‘rabassaire’ struggle in the late 19th century as “the most intense unrest in the Catalan countryside since the rebellion of the 'remences' in the 15th century”. As Giralt explained, this conflict subsided momentarily only to reappear in the 1920s with the creation of a peasant union, ‘Unió de Rabassaires’, which in the 1930s became the major organization in the Catalan countryside and led the way to the social and political struggle of the Catalan peasantry until the Civil War. We want to address this peasant struggle in the long-term. Following Charles Tilly, we understand this social movement as a form of political action which had an early period in the late 18th century and reached its maturity in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Its development was shortened by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Beyond the organizational changes arising from the different social and political situations, a new long-term overview can shed light to the continuities in this movement, especially in terms of building a social identity and legitimating its claims and its struggle.
    Keywords: social movement, Charles Tilly, rabassaires, peasantry, social struggle, Catalonia
    JEL: N53 N54 Q15 R52
    Date: 2016–05
  4. By: Mark E. McGovern
    Abstract: There is a growing literature which documents the importance of early life environment for outcomes across the life cycle. Research, including studies based on Irish data, demonstrates that those who experience better childhood conditions go on to be wealthier and healthier adults. Therefore, inequalities at birth and in childhood shape inequality in wellbeing in later life, and the historical evolution of the mortality and morbidity of children born in Ireland is important for understanding the current status of the Irish population. In this paper, I describe these patterns by reviewing the existing literature on infant health in Ireland over the course of the 20th century. Up to the 1950s, infant mortality in Ireland (both North and South) was substantially higher than in other developed countries, with a large penalty for those born in urban areas. The subsequent reduction in this penalty, and the sustained decline in infant death rates, occurred later than would be expected from the experience in other contexts. Using records from the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital in Dublin, I discuss sources of disparities in stillbirth in the early 1900s. Despite impressive improvements in death rates since that time, a comparison with those born at the end of the century reveals that Irish children continue to be born unequal. Evidence from studies which track people across the life course, for example research on the returns to birthweight, suggests that the economic cost of this early life inequality is substantial.
    Keywords: Infant Mortality; Early Life Conditions; Inequality
    JEL: I10 J10
    Date: 2016–05
  5. By: Anirban Chakraborti; Dhruv Raina; Kiran Sharma
    Abstract: In the light of contemporary discussions of inter and transdisciplinarity, this paper approaches econophysics and sociophysics to seek a response to the question -- whether these interdisciplinary fields could contribute to physics and economics. Drawing upon the literature on history and philosophy of science, the paper argues that the two way traffic between physics and economics has a long history and this is likely to continue in the future.
    Date: 2016–05
  6. By: Gianpaolo Mariutti (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: This article connects economic growth and human learning in historical perspective. It does so by confronting figures for almost two centuries (1820-1990) of GDP per capita and formal learning (mainly literacy) for a group of countries (19) that are nowadays rich. In the last decades of this long period, the selected sample has been enlarged including also nowadays poor countries. Some regularities emerge from the empirical evidence. Human learning has become an essential factor of economic growth. It was not so at the beginning of the Industrial revolution, in the first decades of the XIX century. As time went by, it has moved from being a sufficient factor of economic growth, to a necessary factor of growth. This means that there no countries nowadays rich in income that were not before rich in literacy. The capital factor, by contrast, shows during the same time span a reverse pattern. Among other things this offers interesting hints to look critically and creatively at the theory of growth.
    Keywords: Economic Growth, Human learning, Literacy, Long run
    JEL: N10 I21 O47
    Date: 2015–12
  7. By: Jose Miguel Sanjuan Marroquin (Facultat d'Economia i Empresa; Universitat de Barcelona (UB))
    Abstract: This paper tracks the origins and inner changes of Barcelona's economic elite in the long term. The objective is to achieve a deeper understanding of the mechanism that families and individuals developed to gain access to the elites and retain their economic position. For doing so, the paper analyzes industrial and real estate tax payers in three moments (1853-1883-1919). Through this approach we can observe that in aggregate, elites (identified as the 5% of the higher taxpayers) move from a stationary state to a progressive increase of wealth concentration. For a deeper understanding of the mechanism and inner changes of this elite, we focus in 81 families and exhaustively we have tracked down their origin and evolution. The conclusion is that their initial wealth accumulation is linked with a few specific situations. Their economic promotion seems to be related to specific windows of opportunity that open at certain moments and/or places. Once these windows of opportunity close the elites seem to progressively lock on themselves. This tendency created social circles that favored endogamy.
    Keywords: elites, 19th century, social mobility, prosopography.
    JEL: N13 N33 N83
    Date: 2016
  8. By: Giovanni Scarano
    Abstract: Corporate savings , which could play a major role in producing financial crises , receive scant analytic attention today . By contrast, they saw a glorious period of analysis from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, around the Great Depression. D uring the twenties the corpora tions were accused of contributing to the stock exchange boom by lending out part of their cash balances . In the thirties they were accused of contributing to the stagnation of the economic system by holding excess cash balances. Two different approaches d istinguished the study of retained earnings in the forties and fifties. One approached this phenomenon in connection with investigation into cyclical fluctuations in the economy, while the other analysed the relationship between the rights and interests of the stockholders and those of the management in individual enterprises. The paper deals with some of these seminal contributions, including those by Sergei P. Dobrovolsky and Friedrich A. Lutz
    Keywords: Corporate S avings , Corporate R etained E arnings , Cash Holding , Effective Demand, Financial Crisis, Corporate Governance.
    JEL: E21 E22 E32 E58 G01 G35
    Date: 2016–05
  9. By: S.P. Harish (New York University); Christopher Paik (NYU Abu Dhabi)
    Abstract: State presence and longevity have long been associated with growth and development, and yet analyzing their relationship remains challenging as both the length of state rule and geographical boundaries change over time. After addressing conceptual and practical concerns on its construction, we present a measure of the mean duration of state rule that is aimed at resolving some of these issues. We then present our findings on the relationship between our measure and local development, drawing from observations in Europe spanning from 0 AD to 2000 AD. We find that during this period, the mean duration of state rule and the local income level have a nonlinear, inverse U-shaped relationship, controlling for a set of historical, geographic and socioeconomic factors. Regions that have historically experienced short or long duration of state rule on average lag behind in their local wealth today, while those that have experienced medium-duration state rule on average fare better.
    Keywords: Development, Economic Output, Sovereign Turnovers
    JEL: O10 O47 O52
    Date: 2016–05
  10. By: Christopher Paik (NYU Abu Dhabi); Abbey Steele (University of Amsterdam); Seiki Tanaka (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: War is central to state formation, in part because it precipitates new and higher taxes. But what happens in the absence of war? In this paper, we study Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868), a period of nearly 300 years without foreign or domestic wars. The absence of war allows us to focus on the effects of pressure from below on state growth, and specifically taxation. We investigate if different types of peasant resistance and rebellion systematically affect how much rulers extract in taxes, by exploiting variation across 267 semi-autonomous domains within the Tokugawa shogunate. Given that these domains had widely varying tax rates, we study the extent to which peasant-led rebellions and flight lowered the subsequent tax rate imposed by the rulers. From newly compiled data on different types of peasant-led political mobilization, we find that large-scale rebellions and flight are associated with lower tax rates. We interpret the results as evidence of the underclass' limited but nevertheless significant influence in constraining the rulers' imposed tax rate by rebelling or fleeing, while the more complacent fail to win concessions. This suggests that peasant mobilization contributed to restricting the growth of the state.
    Date: 2016–05
  11. By: Guillaume Daudin (LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - Université Paris IX - Paris Dauphine); Raphaël Franck (Bar-Ilan University - Bar-Ilan University [Israël]); Hillel Rapoport (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: France experienced the demographic transition before richer and more educated countries. This paper offers a novel explanation for this puzzle that emphasizes the diffusion of culture and information through internal migration. It tests how migration affected fertility by building a decennial bilateral migration matrix between French regions for 1861-1911. The identification strategy uses exogenous variation in transportation costs resulting from the construction of railways. The results suggest the convergence towards low birth rates can be explained by the diffusion of low-fertility norms by migrants, especially by migrants to and from Paris.
    Keywords: Fertility,France,Demographic Transition,Migration
    Date: 2016–05
  12. By: Christopher Parsons (Business School, University of Western Australia); Pierre-Louis Vézina (King's College London)
    Abstract: We provide cogent evidence for the causal pro-trade effect of migrants and in doing so establish an important link between migrant networks and long-run economic development. To this end, we exploit a unique event in human history, i.e. the exodus of the Vietnamese Boat People to the US. This episode represents an ideal natural experiment as the large immigration shock, the first wave of which comprised refugees exogenously allocated across the US, occurred over a twenty-year period, during which time the US imposed a complete trade embargo on Vietnam. Following the lifting of trade restrictions in 1994, US exports to Vietnam grew most in US States with larger Vietnamese populations, themselves the result of larger refugee inflows 20 years earlier.
    Date: 2016
  13. By: Jose De Gregorio
    Abstract: Data for a large sample of countries dating back to the early 1970s reveal that the large depreciations against the dollar that are occurring in many countries are not unprecedented in magnitude or duration. The pass-through to inflation from exchange rate depreciation has been slightly more muted than in previous occasions, but it is not out of line with experience since the mid-1990s. The current account adjustment has been more limited than in the past, possibly suggesting that the period of weak currencies may be prolonged.
    Date: 2016–05
  14. By: Nicolas Frémeaux (LEMMA); Marion Leturcq (Ined)
    Abstract: Cet article étudie l’évolution des contrats de mariage, des régimes matrimoniaux et de la dot en France sur la période 1855-2010. Ces séries historiques montrent que les aspects économiques du mariage ont sensiblement changé au cours du temps. Premièrement, le contrat de mariage a été fréquemment utilisé par les couples pour se départir du régime matrimonial par défaut, que ce soit pour limiter les pouvoirs économiques du mari ou pour protéger le conjoint survivant par exemple. Deuxièmement, cet article met en évidence les changements dans la nature du patrimoine causés par le déclin des régimes de communauté et l’essor du régime de la séparation de biens depuis les années 1960. Cette individualisation du patrimoine s’oppose à la prééminence des régimes de communauté depuis la création du Code Civil en 1804. Cette évolution peut être vue comme une amélioration du statut des femmes mariées qui se sont progressivement émancipées de l’autorité du père puis de celle du mari. D’un point de vue patrimonial, nous montrons que le retour du patrimoine en France s’accompagne d’un changement dans sa nature, qui nécessiterait d’être pris en compte dans le cadre de comparaisons historiques.
    Date: 2015
    Date: 2016
  16. By: Claude Diebolt (BETA, University of Strasbourg Strasbourg, France)
    Date: 2016
  17. By: Lazuka, Volha (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
    Abstract: Socio-economic differences in health and mortality are substantial and increasing today in many developed countries. The sources of these differences remain debated. There is an expanding literature showing that early-life conditions are linked to health in adulthood and old age. However, our knowledge about whether beneficial treatments in early life influence later health is still limited. Using longitudinal individual-level data from the Scanian Economic Demographic Database (Sweden) for individuals born between 1881 and 1930 and observed from birth until the age 80, this paper explores the long-term health effects of being born assisted by a qualified midwife. Treatment data is obtained from midwife reports for approximately 7,200 children, which includes information on the type of treatment at birth as well as child and mother health. In a setting of home deliveries, midwives not only provided skilled assistance at childbirth, but also strictly followed disinfection instructions and checked child and mother health within three weeks after birth. Our findings show that individuals treated by qualified midwives at birth and in the first month of life have lower all-cause mortality between ages 15 and 39 and lower mortality from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes between ages 40 and 80, compared to individuals delivered by traditional midwives. The effects are larger for individuals originating from more affluent families. These findings are linked to reductions in exposure to infectious diseases and their interplay with family responses to better infant health.
    Keywords: early-life; qualified midwifery; mortality; morbidity; life-course; Sweden
    JEL: H41 I15 J13
    Date: 2016–05–23
  18. By: Giovanni Dosi; Maria Enrica Virgillito
    Abstract: This work, which shall contribute to the Fest "A Just Society: Honouring Joseph Stiglitz", discusses a major unifying theme in Joe Stiglitz monumental work, namely, the analysis of economies characterised by persistent learning and coordination hurdles. In his analysis Joe is in many respects a "closet evolutionist" who in fact highlighted and explored many evolutionary properties of contemporary economies in a Schumpeterian spirit. And he went further introducing genuinely Keynesian properties e.g. coordination failures and the possibility of path-dependent multiplicity of growth trajectories which are far and beyond Schumpeterian concerns. In this short essay, we shall illustrate this point with reference to some of Stiglitz works, out of many, linking them with significantly overlapping contributions from the evolutionary camp. We group them by two major themes, namely, the consequences of learning and dynamic increasing returns, and "Keynesian" coordination failures with the ensuing possibility of multiple growth paths, fluctuations, small and big crises.
    Keywords: Stiglitz, Learning, Coordination Hurdles, Growth Trajectories, Knowledge, Information
    Date: 2016–03–05
    Date: 2016
    Date: 2016

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