nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2018‒09‒17
twenty-two papers chosen by
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo
Bangor University

  1. Global silver: bullion or specie? Supply and demand in the making of the early modern global economy By Irigoin, Alejandra
  2. The Rise of the Comparative Approach in Russian Legal Scholarship as a Factor in the Modernization of Civil Legislation, from Svod Zakonov of 1833 to the Draft Civil Code of 1905 By Dmitry Poldnikov
  3. The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Stability During the Gold Standard. Spain 1874—1914 By MARTÍNEZ-RUIZ, Elena; NOGUES-MARCO, Pilar
  4. Measuring Geopolitical Risk By Matteo Iacoviello
  5. La Historia Agraria contemporánea española en claroscuro By David Soto Fernández; José-Miguel Lana-Berasain
  6. Did Speculation in Land Pay Off for British Investors? Buying and Selecting Land in South Australia, 1835-1850 By Edwyna Harris; Sumner La Croix
  7. The Power Resource Theory Revisited: What Explains the Decline in Industrial Conflicts in Sweden? By Enflo, Kerstin; Karlsson, Tobias; Molinder, Jakob
  8. How top income inequality influences sustained growth? By Qi Pan
  9. Why did people pay taxes? Fiscal innovation in Portugal and state making in times of political struggle (1500-1680) By Leonor Freire Costa; Paulo Brito
  10. New Evidence on the Impacts of Early Exposure to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on Old-Age Mortality: A Research Note By Fletcher, Jason M.
  11. Coheisive Institutions and Political Violence By Thiemo Fetzer; Stephan Kyburz
  12. Why do Industries Coagglomerate? How Marshallian Externalities Differ by Industry and Have Evolved Over Time By Dario Diodato; Frank Neffke; Neave O'Clery
  13. Changes in inequality in mortality: New evidence for Spain By Libertad González Luna; Ana Rodríguez-González
  14. Africa in Twentieth Century Black Liberation: Consensus and Conflicts By Tunde Adeleke
  16. Farm Prices, Redistribution, and the Severity of the Early Great Depression By Joshua Hausman; Johannes Wieland; Paul Rhode
  17. Global Shifts: Governing Cotton in Historical Perspective By Quark, Amy A.
  18. From Convergence to Divergence: Portuguese Economic Growth, 1527-1850 By Nuno Palma; Jaime Reis
  19. Who Benefited from Women’s Suffrage? By Esra Kose; Elira Kuka; Na'ama Shenhav
  20. Economics Uncertainty and Fertility Cycles: The Case of the Post-WWII Baby Boom By Bastien Chabé-Ferret; Paula Eugenia Gobbi
  21. Income Distribution in Latin America. The Evolution in the Last 20 Years: A Global Approach By Leopoldo Tornarolli; Matías Ciaschi; Luciana Galeano
  22. Transportation and Health in a Developing Country: The United States, 1820–1847 By Ariell Zimran

  1. By: Irigoin, Alejandra
    Abstract: In the early modern period the world economy gravitated around the expansion of long distance commerce. Together with navigation improvements silver was the prime commodity which moved the sails of such trade. The disparate availability of, and the particular demand for silver across the globe determined the participation of producers, consumers and intermediaries in a growing global economy. American endowments of silver are a known feature of this process; however, the fact that the supply of silver was in the form of specie is a less known aspect of the integration of the global economy. This chapter surveys the production and export of silver specie out of Spanish America, its intermediation by Europeans and the re-export to Asia. It describes how the sheer volume produced and the quality and consistency of the coin provided familiarity with, and reliability to the Spanish American peso which made it current in most world markets. By the 18th century it has become a currency standard for the international economy which grew together with the production and coinage of silver. Implications varied according to the institutional settings to deal with specie and foreign exchange in each intervening economy. Generalized warfare in late 18th century Europe brought down governance in Spanish America and coinage fragmented along with the political fragmentation of the empire. The emergence of new sovereign republics and the end of minting as known meant the cessation of the silver standard that had contributed to the early modern globalization.
    Keywords: silver specie; international currency; international trade; monetary capacity; currency trade; global Smithian growth; early modern global economy
    JEL: E42 E44 E5 N10 N20 P5
    Date: 2018–09–01
  2. By: Dmitry Poldnikov (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: The place of Russian law in European legal history is debated both in the national and international literature. The advocates of the European character of Russian law have to face the particularity of its legal culture, the sources of law, and the tradition of sui generis national identity. Yet, national identities and legal traditions are not innate but man-made and changeable. In this paper the focus on the period of the 19th century when Russian law was essentially modernized to match the best coeval European standards. It began in the early 1860s with the judicial and university reforms of Alexander II which introduced modern principles of judicial dispute resolution and professional legal education and lasted until the October revolution of 1917. The rapid and profound transformation of Russian law is best illustrated by the legislation in the domain of civil law, the leading branch of codified law in 19th century Europe. The pre-reformed Svod Zakonov (Digest of Laws) of 1833 (its 10th volume) was notably casuistic, inconsistent, and voluminous to the extent that it may not qualify as a modern code. The Draft Civil Code of 1905 could stand comparison with any European codification to date in terms of the systematic and coherent arrangement of general provisions on material civil law. Another important change was the progressive use of the best European legal experience: from the masked, fragmentary and unskilled borrowings in Svod Zakonov to a fully-fledged comparative legislation in the Draft Civil Code. A comprehensive comparison of all major European codes allowed the draft of a better piece of legislation but this has not been yet been researched by legal historians. The main question – how did this comparative approach came about – remains largely unanswered. In this paper attention is drawn to the decisive role of Russian legal scholarship in developing a comparative approach using an original synthesis of several streams of European legal thought (Savigny's historical school, German Pandectistics, French ecole de l'exegese, and Jhering's sociological approach) which it managed to develop in the second half of the 19th century. It is argued that such legal scholars as Meyer, Pobedonostsev, Pakhman, Shershenevich, Annenkov succeeded in overcoming the limits of the pre-reformed, literal knowledge of Svod Zakonov and began to study Russian civil law as part of a larger phenomenon (the law of the 'civilized nations') through dogmatic comparison which resembled the comparative legislation in western Europe. The evidence for this claim is taken from the main doctrinal works between 1840 and 1910 which represent both streams of comparison and it is analysed in the framework of comparative legal history. Special attention is paid to the contribution of dogmatic comparison in developing the general part of contract law as a recognizable hallmark of civil law in continental Europe which came to be adopted in the doctrinal writings and the draft legislation of the late Russian empire
    Keywords: history of private law (19th century), comparative legislation, Russian civil law, legal modernization
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2018
    Abstract: This article contributes to the literature on central bank independence and monetary stability during the classical gold standard era. On the eve of the First World War, European periphery had not achieved stable adherence to gold despite the protection of central banks against political pressures to monetize debt. In the 19th century, most issuing institutions were private banks whose main objective was profit maximization. As a result, monetary stability depended on negotiations between monetary and fiscal authorities and not directly on central bank independence as is the case nowadays. Strong governments were needed to impose the objective of monetary stability on central banks in negotiation practices. To test our argument, we have constructed indicators of government strength and central bank independence to measure bargaining power for the case of Spain. Results confirm that a highly independent private central bank avoided the responsibility of defending gold adherence when negotiating with weak government, even in a stable macroeconomic environment. Our research suggests that the success of central bank independence in generating monetary stability during the gold standard period depended on sound political institutions.
    Keywords: gold standard, monetary stability, political economy, central bank independence, institutional design, Spain
    JEL: E02 E42 E58 F33 N13
    Date: 2018–09
  4. By: Matteo Iacoviello (Federal Reserve Board)
    Abstract: We present a monthly indicator of geopolitical risk based on a tally of newspaper articles covering geopolitical tensions, and examine its evolution and effects since 1985. The geopolitical risk (GPR) index spikes around the Gulf War, after 9/11, during the 2003 Iraq invasion, during the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis, and after the Paris terrorist attacks. High geopolitical risk leads to a decline in real activity, lower stock returns, and movements in capital flows away from emerging economies and towards advanced economies. When we decompose the index into threats and acts components, the adverse effects of geopolitical risk are mostly driven by the threat of adverse geopolitical events. Extending our index back to 1900, geopolitical risk rose dramatically during the World War I and World War II, was elevated in the early 1980s, and has drifted upward since the beginning of the 21st century.
    Date: 2018
  5. By: David Soto Fernández; José-Miguel Lana-Berasain
    Abstract: This study analyses the trajectory of the Spanish rural history in the last decades. For the aims of this work, we have limited to the rural history of the late modern period. Though the evolution of the discipline is analysed since the seventies, we presents special attention to the evolution of historiography during the last 15 years. Both historiographical changes and institutional dynamics of the profession are considered. In the first section, we analyze the path of the discipline up to the turning point of 2001. In the second section, we analyze the recent institutional changes and the problems arisen from the economic crisis and the reduction of the research budgets in Spain. In the last section, we show some of the topics and recent debates that, in our opinion, can be more promising for the future of the contemporary rural history research in Spain.
    Keywords: Agricultural history, economic history, environmental history, historiography
    JEL: N01 N50
    Date: 2018–03
  6. By: Edwyna Harris; Sumner La Croix
    Abstract: In 1834, Britain’s Parliament passed the South Australia Act establishing South Australia as a colony. By December 1835, 130 British investors had purchased 437 priority land orders (PLO) at £81 per order, allowing selection of a surveyed one-acre lot in the capital city of Adelaide and 80 surveyed country acres. In March 1837, PLO investors selected 437 lots from 1,000 surveyed Adelaide lots, with remaining lots sold one week later at auction. Investors who sold city lots in 1838/1839 earned on average 59 times initial investment, while investors who held until 1850/1852 saw the average assessed value of Adelaide lots and buildings increase by 16 times the initial investment in the lot. Initial Investors were able to identify higher-value lots, as higher prices paid for lots in 1837 predict higher sales prices in 1838/1839 and early selection of lots and higher prices paid for lots in 1837 predict higher assessed property values in 1850.
    Keywords: Adelaide; colonization; priority land order; South Australia; auction;Wakefield; Hindmarsh
    JEL: N47 N57 N97 R30 D44
    Date: 2018–08
  7. By: Enflo, Kerstin; Karlsson, Tobias; Molinder, Jakob
    Abstract: This paper revisits the Power Resource Theory by testing one of its more influential claims: the relation between the strength of the labor movement and the reduction of industrial conflicts. Using panel data techniques to analyze more than 2,000 strikes in 103 Swedish towns we test whether a shift in the balance of power towards Social Democratic rule was associated with fewer strikes. The focus is on the formative years between the first general election in 1919 and the famous Saltsjöbaden Agreement in 1938, the period when Sweden went from a country of fierce labor conflicts to a state of industrial peace. The spatial dimension provides new possibilities to test the theory. We find that Social Democratic power reduced strike activity, but only in towns where union presence was strong. Powerful unions in themselves did not reduce local strike activity. On the contrary, we find that the rise of the Social Democratic Party in municipal governments offset about 45 percent of the estimated effect of growing union presence on industrial conflicts. We do not see any significant tangible concessions in terms of increased social spending by local governments after a left-wing victory as predicted by Power Resource Theory. Instead the mechanism leading to fewer strikes appears to be related to corporatist explanations.
    Keywords: industrial conflicts; Local Labor Markets; Power Resource Theory; strikes
    JEL: H53 J51 N34 N44
    Date: 2018–08
  8. By: Qi Pan (Tsinghua University)
    Abstract: While the relationship between inequality and economic growth has been studied since last century providing a general picture of the income distribution's influence on economic growth, it hides the relationship's complexity by merely using a single and general inequality statistic. Recently, the consequence of top income inequality has been broadly discussed after the financial crisis and related social movement. Research covering series on top income share has emerged in an international and historical perspective. Some researchers present the relationship between top income and growth recession. But rather than focusing on the short period of stagnation, it is more meaningful to explore what top income performs consistently long time ahead that causes economic growth to a halt. This study fills this gap by a quantitative research of 31 countries from 1950 to 2014, studying top income's relation with the duration of growth spells - periods of high, healthy, per capita growth - indicating sustained growth based on Berg, Ostry and Zettelmeyer (2012) research.Studies show that taken other standard determinants into consideration, income distribution equality is robustly associated with longer growth spells. Thus, will top income inequality has the same influence on growth duration? Will top income's influence change in different stage of growth spells? These are the questions we try to answer.This paper redefines growth spells using Bai and Perron's (1998, 2003, 2006) methodology of structural breaks with improved economic criteria and applies duration analysis to explore the role of top income influencing the duration of growth spells. We find that top inequality is significantly associated with growth duration, and the top inequality's effect changes within growth spells. Results show the initial level of top 1% income share is positively associated with the length of growth spells while its change within spells shortened the length of growth spell. But top income initial's positive effect is relatively more than the negative effect of the change within spells. This study sheds light on top income's role in economic sustained growth, offering a potential solution in avoiding the middle-income trap. At the start of growth spells, top income's larger share can enhance the possibility the economy maintains growing. But as the growth continues, top income's adverse effect begins to show. The government should make the best use of the top income's positive effect at the take-off stage and avoid its adverse effect as the growth continues.
    Keywords: top income inequality, sustained growth, duration analysis
    Date: 2018–06
  9. By: Leonor Freire Costa; Paulo Brito
    Abstract: This paper considers growing fiscal capacity of the European early modern states as contingent to taxpayer’s consent in higher tax loads. It puts forward the hypothesis that war damages were the main factor guiding the taxpayer’s cost-benefit assessment of consenting or violently resisting to a fiscal innovation. To test the hypotheses, we consider data on Portugal in times of political struggle against the Habsburgs to restore and keep the political autonomy after 1640. The war was financed by an entirely new, universal income tax, remaining in the Portuguese fiscal system well until the liberal revolution in 1820, although enforced by a decentralized and nonspecialized administration. A model derives the optimal tax rate from the standpoint of the taxpayer as a function of war intensity, risk aversion, and awareness that evasion would enhance war damages. Data on damages, contemporary assessments of the tax base, and amounts enforced allow the model’s calibration. Results suggest the accuracy of the hypothesis and draw the conclusion that taxpayers’ utility in paying the new tax determined the e?ective tax rate (tax enforced). This paper claims that ultimately improvements in the fiscal capacity of states needed taxpayer’s perception of high levels of destruction, hence any political regime in early modern Europe must have found in war damages a persuasive argument to make e?ective a fiscal innovation. The other contribution of this case study is pointing out the advantage of the assignment of the tax collection to local, non-professional administration, for the endurance of a fiscal system, which incorporated an income tax that withstood the liberal revolution. It enhanced the role of peer monitoring and turned out to be an e?ective way of instilling social norms contributing to build up the taxpayer’s liability, which somehow the liberal state in 19th century exploited within a di?erent technological environment.
    Keywords: Portugal, early modern economies, income tax, state capacity JEL classification: N13, H31, H26
    Date: 2018
  10. By: Fletcher, Jason M. (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    Abstract: This paper provides new evidence of the impacts of early life exposure to the 1918 pandemic on old-age mortality by analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study (n ~ 220,000). The specifications used year and quarter of birth indicators to assess the effects of timing of pandemic exposure and used Cox proportional hazard models for all-cause mortality outcomes. The findings suggest evidence of excess all-cause mortality for cohorts born during 1918 and mixed evidence for cohorts born in 1917 and 1919. Therefore, contrary to some existing research, the results suggest no consistent evidence of the importance of specific windows of exposure by gestation period.
    Keywords: early conditions, in utero, 1918 influenza pandemic, mortality
    JEL: I14
    Date: 2018–07
  11. By: Thiemo Fetzer; Stephan Kyburz
    Abstract: Can institutionalized transfers of resource rents be a source of civil conflict? Are cohesive institutions better in managing distributive conflicts? We study these questions exploiting exogenous variation in revenue disbursements to local governments together with new data on local democratic institutions in Nigeria. We make three contributions. First, we document the existence of a strong link between rents and conflict far away from the location of the actual resource. Second, we show that distributive conflict is highly organized involving political militias and concentrated in the extent to which local governments are non-cohesive. Third, we show that democratic practice in form having elected local governments significantly weakens the causal link between rents and political violence. We document that elections (vis-a-vis appointments), by producing more cohesive institutions, vastly limit the extent to which distributional conflict between groups breaks out following shocks to the available rents. Throughout, we confirm these findings using individual level survey data.
    Keywords: conflict, ethnicity, natural resources, political economy, commodity prices
    JEL: Q33 O13 N52 R11 L71
    Date: 2018
  12. By: Dario Diodato; Frank Neffke (Center for International Development at Harvard University); Neave O'Clery (Center for International Development at Harvard University)
    Abstract: The fact that firms benefit from close proximity to other firms with which they can exchange inputs, skilled labor or know-how helps explain why many industrial clusters are so successful. Studying the evolution of coagglomeration patterns, we show that which type of agglomeration benefits firms has drastically changed over the course of a century and differs markedly across industries. Whereas, at the beginning of the twentieth century, industries tended to colocate with their value chain partners, in more recent decades the importance of this channels has declined and colocation seems to be driven more by similarities industries' skill requirements. By calculating industry-specific Marshallian agglomeration forces, we are able to show that, nowadays, skill-sharing is the most salient motive in location choices of services, whereas value chain linkages still explain much of the colocation patterns in manufacturing. Moreover, the estimated degrees to which labor and input-output linkages are reflected in an industry's coagglomeration patterns help improve predictions of city-industry employment growth.
    Keywords: Coagglomeration, Marshallian externalities, labor pooling, value chains, manufacturing, services, regional diversification
    JEL: J24 O14 R11
    Date: 2018–02
  13. By: Libertad González Luna; Ana Rodríguez-González
    Abstract: We analyze the evolution of inequality in mortality in Spain during 1990-2014. We focus on age-specific mortality and consider inequality across narrowly defined geographical areas, ranked by average socioeconomic status. We find substantial decreases in mortality over the past 25 years for all age groups, which were particularly pronounced for men, resulting in a sizeable reduction in the gender gap in mortality. Inequality in mortality also decreased during this period, including during the recent recession, so that by the 2010’s mortality presents a flat socioeconomic gradient for most age groups. Compared to the US and Canada, decreases in mortality have been larger in Spain, and inequality is the lowest of the three countries. We find essentially no change in inequality among the elderly, in contrast to the increase found in the US.
    Keywords: Mortality, inequality, health
    JEL: J11 I14
    Date: 2018–08
  14. By: Tunde Adeleke (Iowa State University)
    Abstract: Among leading twentieth century Black Diaspora activists there was a general consensus on the centrality of Africa to the global struggles. Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Walter Rodney theorized Africa as the agency whose heritage and post-colonial political power, and economic resources, afforded diaspora blacks and oppressed colored populations worldwide the wherewithal for survival and empowerment. Paradoxically, even as these activists were drawn to Africa by a macro-vision of a Pan-African solidarity, the competing demand of, and loyalty to, ethno-cultural identity (micro-nationalism) complicated and problematized Africa?s capacity to function as envisioned. In essence, their attempts to construct a unified foundation for a broad colored cosmopolitan struggle morphed into a conflict between the call for a unified Pan-African struggle vested on Africa on the one hand, and micro-nationalistic allegiance to, and concerns for, the problems and challenges specific to the diasporic context/nationality.
    Keywords: Diaspora, Pan-African, Post-colonial, Micro-nationalism
    Date: 2018–07
  15. By: Nankhuni, Flora Janet
    Abstract: The design, organization, and provision of agricultural extension and advisory services in Malawi is guided by the 2000 national agriculture extension policy, “Agriculture Extension in the New Millennium: Towards Pluralistic and Demand-Driven Services in Malawi”. An implementation guide for the policy, “Agricultural Extension Implementation Guide” was published in 2004. Historically, the colonial government of Malawi (Nyasaland) established a national agricultural extension and training system in 1950 as part of government’s response to the severe drought and famine of 1948/49. The Agricultural Development Divisions (ADDs) and Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) were established in this era.
    Keywords: Agricultural and Food Policy, Food Security and Poverty, International Development
    Date: 2017–04–04
  16. By: Joshua Hausman (University of Michigan); Johannes Wieland (UCSD); Paul Rhode (University of Michigan)
    Abstract: We investigate the extent to which the size and characteristics of the agriculture sector explain a large part of why initial, negative shocks resulted in a large downturn. Preliminary evidence suggests the following causal chain: As a recession began in the U.S. and abroad in summer 1929, farm prices plummeted; this, in turn, reduced farm incomes. As lower farm incomes interacted with fixed nominal debt burdens, farm consumption collapsed. And lower farm prices not only depressed the incomes of farmers, they also led to economy-wide deflation.
    Date: 2018
  17. By: Quark, Amy A.
    Keywords: Crop Production/Industries, International Development
  18. By: Nuno Palma; Jaime Reis
    Date: 2018
  19. By: Esra Kose; Elira Kuka; Na'ama Shenhav
    Abstract: While a growing literature has shown that women prefer investments in child welfare and increased redistribution, little is known about the long-term effect of empowering women. Exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in U.S. suffrage laws, we show that children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who were exposed to women’s political empowerment during childhood experienced large increases in educational attainment, especially blacks and Southern whites. We also find improvements in earnings among whites and blacks that experienced educational gains. We employ newly digitized data to map these long-term effects to contemporaneous increases in local education spending and childhood health, showing that educational gains were linked to improvements in the policy environment.
    JEL: I0 N30
    Date: 2018–08
  20. By: Bastien Chabé-Ferret; Paula Eugenia Gobbi
    Abstract: Using the US Census waves 1940-1990 and CPS 1990-2010, we look at how economic uncertainty affected fertility cycles over the course of the XXth century. We use cross-state and cross-cohort variation in the volatility of income growth to identify the causal link running from uncertainty to fertility. We find that economic uncertainty has a large and robust negative effect on completed fertility. We hypothesize that a greater economic uncertainty increases the risk of large consumption swings, which individuals mitigate by postponing fertility and ultimately decreasing their completed fertility. Differences in volatility account for between 45% and 61% of the one child variation observed during the post WWII baby boom
    Keywords: baby boom, baby bust, fertility, economic uncertainty
    Date: 2018–07
  21. By: Leopoldo Tornarolli (CEDLAS-FCE-UNLP); Matías Ciaschi (CEDLAS-FCE-UNLP); Luciana Galeano (CEDLAS-FCE-UNLP)
    Abstract: While Latin America has historically been considered a region of very high inequality, the performance of most Latin American countries in terms of reduction of income inequality has been remarkable good in the first decade of this century. Given that those improvements took place in a context of rising inequality in most of the world, the evolution of income inequality in the region has caught the attention of researchers and policy makers around the world. Taking advantage of a large database of comparable microdata from household surveys, this article updates the evidence on the trends of income inequality in all Latin American countries for the period 1992-2015. It also provides an analysis of how the distinctive evolution of income inequality in this century in Latin America has changed the position of the different countries of the region in both, the global distribution of income in the world and the global distribution of income in Latin America. Finally, the paper decomposes the evolution of income inequality in several countries of the region, discussing the role played by several factors on that evolution.
    JEL: D63 I31 J11 J21 J31 J82 N36
    Date: 2018–09
  22. By: Ariell Zimran
    Abstract: I study the impact of transportation on health in the rural US, 1820–1847. Measuring health by average stature and using within-county panel analysis and a straight-line instrument, I find that greater transportation linkage, as measured by market access, in a cohort's county-year of birth had an adverse impact on its health. A one-standard deviation increase in market access reduced average stature by 0.10 to 0.29 inches. These results explain 26 to 65 percent of the decline in average stature in the study period. I find evidence that transportation affected health by increasing population density, leading to a worse epidemiological environment.
    JEL: I15 N31 N71 O18
    Date: 2018–08

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