nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2019‒10‒07
twenty papers chosen by

  1. Trade and terroir. The political economy of the world's first geographical indications By Giulia Meloni; Jo Swinnen
  2. Women Leaders in Industry in Nineteenth Century France: The Case of Amélie de Dietrich. By Herrade Igersheim; Charlotte Le Chapelain
  3. The Pre-1914 UK Productivity Slowdown: A Reappraisal By Crafts, Nicholas; Mills, Terence C.
  4. The beginnings of the monetarization in Celtic Europe (3rd century - early 2nd century BC) By Eneko Hiriart
  5. Recovering Tinbergen By Morgan, Mary S.
  6. Early French and German central bank charts and regulations By Bindseil, Ulrich
  7. The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise By Becker, Sascha O.; Hornung, Erik
  9. Divergent: The Time Path of Legacy and Athlete Admissions at Harvard By Peter Arcidiacono; Josh Kinsler; Tyler Ransom
  10. Tax Incentives for Investment: Evidence from Japan's High-Growth Era By Mariko Hatase; Yoichi Matsubayashi
  11. Education and Polygamy: Evidence from Cameroon By André, Pierre; Dupraz, Yannick
  12. The Power Resource Theory Revisited:What Explains the Decline in Industrial Conflicts in Sweden? By Molinder, Jakob; Karlsson, Tobias; Enflo, Kerstin
  13. Bretton Woods and the Reconstruction of Europe By Lee Ohanian; Diana Van Patten; Mark Wright; Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria
  14. ‘Novel’ Ideas: The Effects of Carnegie Libraries on Innovative Activities By Enrico Berkes; Peter Nencka
  15. One Ring to Rule Them All? New Evidence on World Cycles By Eric Monnet; Damien Puy
  16. Equity Premium Puzzle or Faulty Economic Modelling? By Abootaleb Shirvani; Stoyan V. Stoyanov; Frank J. Fabozzi; Svetlozar T. Rachev
  17. Lorenzo Tonti, inventeur de la tontine By Georges GALLAIS-HAMONNO; Christian RIETSCH
  18. The fundamental causes of economic growth: a comparative analysis of the total factor productivity growth of European agriculture, 1950-2005 By Miguel Martín-Retortillo; Vicente Pinilla
  20. Estimating Path Dependence in Energy Transitions By Kyle Meng

  1. By: Giulia Meloni; Jo Swinnen
    Abstract: The world’s first geographical indications (GIs) were in the wine sector and focused on the delineation of the location of production, the ‘terroir’: the Burgundy wines in the fifteenth century, the Port wines and Chianti wines in the eighteenth century, and the Champagne wines in the early twentieth century. We analyze the causes for the introduction of these GIs (‘terroirs’) and for changes in their delineation (expansion) later on. Our analysis shows that trade played a very important role in the creation of the ‘terroirs’ but not always through the same mechanisms. For the Port and Chianti GIs it was exports to Britain that were crucial; for Burgundy it was domestic trade to Paris; and for the Champagne GI it was not exports but pressure from wine imports and new wine regions that played a crucial role. For the expansions of the GIs later in history, other factors seem to have been equally important. Expansions of the GIs in the years and centuries after their introduction followed major changes in political power; the spread of a new philosophy in liberal and free markets across Europe; and infrastructure investments which opened up markets and made exports cheaper from “new” producers.
    Date: 2018–01
  2. By: Herrade Igersheim; Charlotte Le Chapelain
    Abstract: This article traces the history of Amelie de Dietrich’s role - from 1806 to her death in 1855 - as the head of one of the oldest family-owned businesses: the De Dietrich company. Amelie took important strategic decisions to adapt the company to the new economic opportunities in the metal sector, which arose in the first half of the nineteenth century. Her choices were decisive for the future of the company; what is more, she succeeded in restoring the familial ownership. Given the entrenched assumptions about gender roles prevalent in the early nineteenth century, how can we explain her success in meeting such difficult challenges? Relying on Amélie de Dietrich’s own unpublished correspondence, this contribution examines the factors that explain her success in imposing herself as a Maître des Forges. It thus underlines women’s role – as business leaders – during the industrialization process.
    Keywords: French industrial revolution, entrepreneurship, invisible women, De Dietrich company.
    JEL: N63 N83
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Crafts, Nicholas (University of Warwick); Mills, Terence C. (Loughborough University)
    Abstract: This paper re-examines UK productivity growth in the decades before World War I using a new dataset compiled by Thomas and Dimsdale (2017). We find that the productivity slowdown of the early 20th century was quite modest and does not deserve to be called a climacteric. A more serious slowdown in labour productivity growth occurred in the 1870s. Neither of these episodes should be regarded as a precedent for the current severe deterioration in UK productivity performance. Nor should a late-Victorian productivity slowdown be attributed to the end of the steam age despite the popularity of this belief.
    Keywords: climacteric; growth accounting; Hodrick-Prescott filter; productivity slowdown JEL Classification: N13; O47
    Date: 2019
  4. By: Eneko Hiriart (Université Bordeaux Montaigne, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, LASCARBX - LabEx Sciences archéologiques de Bordeaux - UB - Université de Bordeaux - Université Bordeaux Montaigne, IRAMAT-CRP2A - IRAMAT-Centre de recherche en physique appliquée à l’archéologie - IRAMAT - Institut de Recherches sur les Archéomatériaux - UTBM - Université de Technologie de Belfort-Montbeliard - UO - Université d'Orléans - Université Bordeaux Montaigne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Our knowledge of the second Iron Age has evolved considerably over the past 30 years as shown by several recent syntheses (Buchsenschutz et al., 2015; Garcia, 2014; Krausz et al., 2013; Guilaine, Garcia, 2018). In the more specific field of numismatics, research has focused mainly on the civilization of the oppida (late 2nd-Ist centuries BC), a period when there was already a significant monetarization of economic activities. But the realities prior to the emergence of the oppida remain largely unknown. Looking further upstream, as early as the 3rd century BC, this study looks at the triggers for the monetarisation of the economy in protohistoric societies at various targeted points in Europe. Does the transformation of trading systems result from a structural change in European societies?
    Abstract: Nos connaissances sur le second âge du Fer ont considérablement évolué depuis 30 ans comme l'ont montré plusieurs synthèses récentes (Buchsenschutz et al., 2015 ; Garcia, 2014 ; Krausz et al., 2013 ; Guilaine, Garcia, 2018). Dans le domaine plus particulier de la numismatique, les recherches ont surtout porté sur la civilisation des oppida (fin IIe-Ier siècle avant notre ère), période où l'on constate une monétarisation déjà importante des activités économiques. Mais les réalités antérieures à l'apparition des oppida demeurent largement méconnues. En regardant plus en amont, dès le IIIe siècle avant notre ère, cette étude s'intéresse aux éléments déclencheurs de la monétarisation de l'économie dans les sociétés protohistoriques, en divers points ciblés de l'Europe. La transformation des systèmes d'échanges résulte-t-elle d'une modification structurelle des sociétés européennes ?
    Keywords: currency,archaeology,numismatics,monetarization,iron age,protohistory,coinage,money,economy,anthropology,social currency,exchanges,urbanization,open agglomerations,oppida,innovation,agglomérations ouvertes,monnaie,archéologie,numismatique,monétarisation,âge du Fer,protohistoire,économie,anthropologie,monnaie sociale,échanges,urbanisation
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Morgan, Mary S.
    Abstract: From the long viewpoint of history of economics, the two most important contributions that Jan Tinbergen made to economics are surely the development of the first macro-econometric model and a general theory of economic policy-making. This paper explores these two innovations to recover why they deserve such recognition, analyses their technical and conceptual depths, and shows how they relate to the economic history of the period and his personal history. In the process, it becomes clear that they are not separate innovations, but, as Tinbergen recognised, involved the same logic; and as we can recognise, were driven by the same ambition to make economics usable in the world.
    Keywords: history of econometrics; theory of policy; jan tinbergen
    JEL: B20 B31 O21
    Date: 2019–09
  6. By: Bindseil, Ulrich
    Abstract: In some recent studies, the question of the origins of central banking has been revisited, suggesting that beyond Swedish and British central banking, a number of earlier European continental institutions would also have played an important role. However, it has often been difficult to access the charters and regulations of these early central banks – in particular in English. This paper contributes to closing this gap by introducing and providing translations of some charters and regulations of six pre 1800 central banks in France and Germany. The six early public banks displayed varying levels of success and duration, and qualify to a different degree as central banks. An overview table maps the articles of the early central banks’ charters and regulations into key central banking topics. The texts also provide evidence of the role of central banking legislation, and of the distinction between, on the one side, the statutes and charters of the banks, and on the other side the operational aspects which tend to be framed by separate rules and regulations. Finally, the texts provide evidence of the policy objectives of early central banks, including in particular those of a monetary nature. To put these documents into context, the objectives, balance sheet structure, achievements and closure of each central bank are briefly summarised. JEL Classification: E32, E5, N23
    Keywords: central bank governance, central bank mandates, central bank operations, central bank regulations, origins of central banking
    Date: 2019–09
  7. By: Becker, Sascha O. (Monash U and U Warwick); Hornung, Erik (University of Cologne)
    Abstract: Did the Prussian three-class franchise, which politically over-represented the economic elite, affect policy-making? Combining MP-level political orientation, derived from all roll call votes in the Prussian parliament (1867–1903), with constituency characteristics, we analyze how local vote inequality, determined by tax payments, affected policymaking during Prussia’s period of rapid industrialization. Contrary to the predominant view that the franchise system produced a conservative parliament, higher vote inequality is associated with more liberal voting, especially in regions with large-scale industry. We argue that industrialists preferred self-serving liberal policies and were able to coordinate on suitable MPs when vote inequality was high.
    Keywords: Inequality, Political Economy, Three-class Franchise, Elites, Prussia JEL Classification: D72, N43, N93, P26
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Edith Archambault (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Date: 2019–07
  9. By: Peter Arcidiacono; Josh Kinsler; Tyler Ransom
    Abstract: Applications to elite US colleges have more than doubled over the past 20 years, with little change in the number of available seats. We examine how this increased competition has affected the admissions advantage that legacies and athletes (LA) receive. Using data on Harvard applications over 18 years, we show that non-legacy, non-athlete (NLNA) applications grew considerably and that LA applications remained flat. Yet, the share of LA admits remained stable, implying substantial increases in admissions advantages for legacies and athletes. We develop a simple theoretical model of university admissions to frame our empirical analysis. Viewed through the lens of the model, stability in the share of LA admits implies that elite colleges treat the number of LA admits and overall admit quality as complements. Our empirical analysis reveals that, if the admissions advantages for LA applicants had been constant throughout this period, there would have been a large increase in the number of minority admits.
    JEL: I23 I24 J15
    Date: 2019–09
  10. By: Mariko Hatase (Director and Senior Economist, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan (E-mail:; Yoichi Matsubayashi (Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University (E-mail:
    Abstract: Tax devices have occasionally been adopted as policy tools to promote economic growth in major industrialized countries after the Second World War. In Japan, various accelerated depreciation schemes under the name 'special depreciation' were employed as major devices to stimulate investments. In this paper, we manually collect firm-level data series in the heyday of the device from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. The findings from firm-level data are as follows: the aggregated special depreciation hit two peaks when the schemes were expanded, applying special depreciation tax incentives prevailed among listed companies, and the actual amounts varied across firms with strong upward biases. A detailed examination of each firm's financial statements indicates that each firm retained its discretion when applying the scheme and sometimes chose not to enjoy the full benefits. An empirical analysis reveals that firms with relatively less capital to labor tended to use larger special depreciation, hinting at the probability of intended effects of policy devices. Increases in the number of designated machines for the scheme- once considered to represent its inefficiency-actually activated the usage of schemes by firms.
    Keywords: Capital investments, Corporate taxes, Special depreciation, Investment policy, High-growth era
    JEL: E22 E62 H25 N15
    Date: 2019–09
  11. By: André, Pierre (University of Cergy-Pontoise); Dupraz, Yannick (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We take advantage of a wave of school constructions in Cameroon after World War II and use variations in school supply at the village level to estimate labor and marriage market returns to education in the 1976 population census. Education increases the likelihood to be in a polygamous union for men and for women, as well as the overall socioeconomic status of the spouse. We argue that education increases polygamy for women because it allows them to marry more educated and richer men, who are more likely to be polygamists. To show this, we estimate a structural model of marriage with polygamy. The positive affinity between a man’s polygamy and a woman’s education is mostly explained by the affinity of education.
    Keywords: polygamy, education, marriage, matching models. JEL Classification: J12, I20, O12.
    Date: 2019
  12. By: Molinder, Jakob (Department of Economic History, Uppsala University); Karlsson, Tobias (Department of Economic History, Lund University); Enflo, Kerstin (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
    Abstract: This paper revisits the Power Resource Theory (PRT) 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 1938, when Sweden went from a country of fierce labor conflicts to a state of industrial peace. We find that Social Democratic power reduced strikes, but only in towns where union presence was strong. We do not see any tangible concessions in terms of increased social spending by local governments after a left-wing victory as predicted by PRT. Instead the mechanism leading to fewer strikes appears to be related to corporatist explanations.
    Keywords: Power Resource Theory; industrial conflicts; strikes; labor markets; local politics
    JEL: H53 J51 N34 N44
    Date: 2019–09–25
  13. By: Lee Ohanian (University of California Los Angeles); Diana Van Patten (UCLA); Mark Wright (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis); Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria (Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis)
    Abstract: The Bretton Woods international financial system, which was in place from roughly 1949- 1973, is the most significant modern policy experiment to attempt to simultaneously manage international payments, international capital flows, and international currency values. This paper addresses the questions of (1) how and why Bretton Woods failed, and (2) the implications of its failure for world economic activity after 1973.
    Date: 2019
  14. By: Enrico Berkes (The Ohio State University); Peter Nencka (The Ohio State University)
    Abstract: We show that the historical rollout of public libraries increased the innovation output of recipient towns. Between 1886 and 1919, Andrew Carnegie donated $1.2 billion ($2018) to fund the construction of more than 1,500 public libraries across the United States. Drawing on a new data set based on original historical records, we identify cities that qualified to receive a library grant, applied for the program, received preliminary construction approval, but ultimately rejected Carnegie’s offer. Using the rejecting cities as a control group, we estimate the effects of Carnegie library formation on patenting activity. We provide evidence that the trends in the patenting activity in the two groups are indistinguishable before the construction of the libraries and then diverge. Cities that accepted grants experienced both short- and long-run gains in patenting activity. We also describe ongoing work to estimate how library exposure during childhood affects long-run innovative potential.
    Date: 2019
  15. By: Eric Monnet; Damien Puy
    Abstract: We estimate world cycles using a new quarterly dataset of output, credit and asset prices assembled using IMF archives and covering a large set of advanced and emerging economies since 1950. World cycles, both real and financial, exist and are generally driven by US shocks. But their impact is modest for most countries. The global financial cycle is also much weaker when looking at credit rather than asset prices. We also challenge the view that syncronization has increased over time. Although this is true for prices (goods and assets), this not true for quantities (output and credit). The world business and credit cycles were as strong during Bretton Woods (1950–1972) as during the Globalization period (1984-2006). For most countries, the way their output co-moves with the rest of the world has changed little over the last 70 years. We discuss the reasons behind these new findings and their policy implications for small open economies.
    Date: 2019–09–20
  16. By: Abootaleb Shirvani; Stoyan V. Stoyanov; Frank J. Fabozzi; Svetlozar T. Rachev
    Abstract: In this paper, we revisit the equity premium puzzle reported in 1985 by Mehra and Prescott. We show that the large equity premium that they report can be explained by choosing a more appropriate distribution for the return data. We demonstrate that the high-risk aversion value observed by Mehra and Prescott may be attributable to the problem of fitting a proper distribution to the historical returns and partly caused by poorly fitting the tail of the return distribution. We describe a new distribution that better fits the return distribution and when used to describe historical returns can explain the large equity risk premium and thereby explains the puzzle.
    Date: 2019–09
  17. By: Georges GALLAIS-HAMONNO; Christian RIETSCH
    Date: 2018
  18. By: Miguel Martín-Retortillo (Universidad de Alcalá, Spain); Vicente Pinilla (Universidad de Zaragoza e Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón, Spain)
    Abstract: In recent decades, the debate on economic growth has largely focused the role-played by institutions, geography, trade, and culture. In line with this concern, this study analyses the underlying causes of agricultural productivity growth in Europe in the second half of the twentieth century. To achieve this objective, a calculation of the Total Factor Productivity growth in European agriculture is made and an econometric model is proposed to determine the importance of these fundamental causes. Our study highlights that inclusive institutions, policies to support agriculture that do not discourage innovation, qualified human capital and a full openness to international trade are key factors for favouring growth of productivity in agriculture.
    Keywords: Agricultural productivity, European agriculture, Fundamental causes of economic growth, Comparative economics
    JEL: N54 O13 O47 P51 Q10
    Date: 2019–09
  19. By: Mejia, Carlos Alberto
    Abstract: El propósito de este documento de trabajo consiste en controvertir mediante el uso de evidencias documentales diversas críticas hechas en distintas épocas y lugares a la obra de Karl Marx, centrándose particularmente en la obra de Jon Elster, uno de sus críticos más incisivos. Partiendo de su consideración sobre lo que denomina oscurantismo en las Ciencias Sociales, el texto debate en torno de si el pensador de Tréveris desconocía las diferencias individuales en el proceso de trabajo, de si buena parte de su obra intenta explicar la existencia de la sociedad a partir del denominado determinismo tecnológico, presente en la exposición de sus teorías sobre el desarrollo de las fuerzas productivas y de la tecnología, de si Marx olvidó tratar el tema de la relación entre religión y capitalismo o si sus escritos eludieron la problemática de la acción colectiva de los empresarios y los capitalistas. El texto intenta arrojar alguna luz sobre el tema.
    Keywords: Marx, trabajo, tecnología
    Date: 2019–08–30
  20. By: Kyle Meng (University of California, Santa Barbara and NBER)
    Abstract: How can an economy transition from dirty to clean inputs? When transitional dynamics exhibit strong path dependence, a temporary shock to input composition can trigger permanent structural change. This paper examines whether such dynamics characterize the U.S. energy sector’s use of coal - the most climate-damaging energy input - over the 20th century. Exploiting local coal transport distance shocks driven by the changing regional accessibility of subsurface coal resources, I find increasing imbalance in the coal composition of electricity capital lasting ten decades following a shock. Additional tests detect increasing returns to scale as the underlying mechanism. To inform energy transitions more broadly, I develop a model of scale-driven structural change to map reduced-form estimates onto a key parameter found across a class of structural change models. Calibrated model simulations further characterize conditions under which a temporary climate policy can trigger a permanent future transition towards clean energy.
    Date: 2019

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