nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2021‒04‒12
twenty-two papers chosen by
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo
Northumbria University

  1. Employment Mobility and the Belated Emergence of the Black Middle Class By Joshua Weitz; William Lazonick; Philip Moss
  2. When Did Growth Begin? New Estimates of Productivity Growth in England from 1250 to 1870 By Paul Bouscasse; Emi Nakamura; Jón Steinsson
  3. Changing Returns to Scale in Manufacturing 1880-1930: The Rise of (Skilled) Labor? By Jeanne Lafortune; Ethan G. Lewis; José Pablo Martínez; José Tessada
  4. Historical Cycles of the Economy of Modern Greece from 1821 to the Present By George Alogoskoufis
  5. From Samurai to Skyscrapers: How Historical Lot Fragmentation Shapes Tokyo By Yamasaki, Junichi; Nakajima, Kentaro; Teshima, Kensuke
  6. Convergence of GDP per capita in advanced countries over the twentieth century By Antonin Bergeaud; Gilbert Cette; Rémy Lecat
  7. The Smoot-Hawley Trade War By Kris James Mitchener; Kirsten Wandschneider; Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
  8. Rugged Entrepreneurs: The Geographic and Cultural Contours of New Business Formation By John M. Barrios; Yael Hochberg; Daniele Macciocchi
  9. The Irish Economy During the Century After Partition By Cormac Ó Gráda; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
  10. Dry Bulk Shipping and the Evolution of Maritime Transport Costs, 1850-2020 By David S. Jacks; Martin Stuermer
  11. Amnesty Policy and Elite Persistence in the Postbellum South: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design By Jason Poulos
  12. The Persistent Effect of Famine on Present-Day China By Pramod Kumar Sur; Masaru Sasaki
  13. Quantitative economic geography meets history: Questions, answers and challenges By David Krisztián Nagy
  14. Area Agencies on Aging By Klimczuk, Andrzej; Perkins, Fatima
  15. Outlawing Favoritism: The Economics, History, and Law of Anti-Aid Provisions in State Constitutions By Mitchell, Matt; Riches, Jon; Thorson, Veronica; Philpot, Anne
  16. The Impacts of the Gender Imbalance on Marriage and Birth: Evidence from World War II in Japan By Kota Ogasawara; Erika Igarashi
  17. De la mobilité à l’immobilité, de l’urgence climatique à l’urgence économique By Yves Crozet
  18. Guerra, recursos naturales y hacienda pública: el caso de la Guerra del Pacífico (1879-1883) By Sabaté, Oriol; Peres-Cajías, José
  19. Four Great Asian Trade Collapses By Alan de Bromhead; Alan Fernihough; Markus Lampe; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
  20. Occupational Mobility: Theory and Estimation for Italy By Irene Brunetti; Davide Fiaschi
  21. Trends in global inequality using a new integrated dataset By Carlos Gradín
  22. The loss of human capital after the Spanish civil war By Blanca Sánchez-Alonso; Carlos Santiago-Caballero

  1. By: Joshua Weitz (Brown University); William Lazonick (University of Massachusetts Lowell); Philip Moss (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
    Abstract: As the Covid-19 pandemic takes its disproportionate toll on African Americans, the historical perspective in this working paper provides insight into the socioeconomic conditions under which President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign promise to “build back better” might actually begin to deliver the equal employment opportunity that was promised by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Far from becoming the Great Society that President Lyndon Johnson promised, the United States has devolved into a greedy society in which economic inequality has run rampant, leaving most African Americans behind. In this installment of our 'Fifty Years After' project, we sketch a long-term historical perspective on the Black employment experience from the last decades of the nineteenth century into the 1970s. We follow the transition from the cotton economy of the post-slavery South to the migration that accelerated during World War I as large numbers of Blacks sought employment in mass-production industries in Northern cities such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. For the interwar decades, we focus in particular on the Black employment experience in the Detroit automobile industry. During World War II, especially under pressure from President Roosevelt’s Fair Employment Practices Committee, Blacks experienced tangible upward employment mobility, only to see much of it disappear with demobilization. In the 1960s and into the 1970s, however, supported by the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Blacks made significant advances in employment opportunity, especially by moving up the blue-collar occupational hierarchy into semiskilled and skilled unionized jobs. These employment gains for Blacks occurred within a specific historical context that included a) strong demand for blue-collar and clerical labor in the U.S. mass-production industries, which still dominated in global competition; b) the unquestioned employment norm within major U.S. business corporations of a career with one company, supported at the blue-collar level by mass-production unions that had become accepted institutions in the U.S. business system; c) the upward intergenerational mobility of white households from blue-collar employment requiring no more than a high-school education to white-collar employment requiring a higher education, creating space for Blacks to fill the blue-collar void; and d) a relative absence of an influx of immigrants as labor-market competition to Black employment. As we will document in the remaining papers in this series, from the 1980s these conditions changed dramatically, resulting in erosion of the blue-collar gains that Blacks had achieved in the 1960s and 1970s as the Great Society promise of equal employment opportunity for all Americans disappeared.
    Keywords: African American, employment relations, equal employment opportunity, unions, blue-collar, employment mobility, The Great Migration, New Deal, government employment
    JEL: D2 D3 G3 J0 L2 L6 N8 O3 P1
    Date: 2021–01–02
  2. By: Paul Bouscasse; Emi Nakamura; Jón Steinsson
    Abstract: We provide new estimates of the evolution of productivity in England from 1250 to 1870. Real wages over this period were heavily influenced by plague-induced swings in the population. We develop and implement a new methodology for estimating productivity that accounts for these Malthusian dynamics. In the early part of our sample, we find that productivity growth was zero. Productivity growth began in 1600—almost a century before the Glorious Revolution. Post-1600 productivity growth had two phases: an initial phase of modest growth of 4% per decade between 1600 and 1810, followed by a rapid acceleration at the time of the Industrial Revolution to 18% per decade. Our evidence helps distinguish between theories of why growth began. In particular, our findings support the idea that broad-based economic change preceded the bourgeois institutional reforms of 17th century England and may have contributed to causing them. We also estimate the strength of Malthusian population forces on real wages. We find that these forces were sufficiently weak to be easily overwhelmed by post-1800 productivity growth.
    JEL: N13 O11 O47
    Date: 2021–03
  3. By: Jeanne Lafortune; Ethan G. Lewis; José Pablo Martínez; José Tessada
    Abstract: This paper estimates returns to scale for manufacturing industries around the turn of the twentieth century in the United States by exploiting an industry-city panel data for the years 1880-1930. We estimate decreasing returns to scale on average over the period, contrary to most of the existing literature, because our empirical methodology allows us to separate returns to scale from "agglomeration" effects. We also find that returns to scale grew substantially after 1910, mostly because the return to labor grew. We find that this was more marked in industries that were more intensive in human capital and energy at the beginning of the period and in cells that were less competitive. Overall, results suggest that technological change and lack of initial competition played relevant roles in the rise of larger establishments in manufacturing.
    JEL: J23 N61 N62 R12
    Date: 2021–04
  4. By: George Alogoskoufis
    Abstract: This paper reviews and interprets the history of the economy of modern Greece, from the eve of the war for independence in 1821 to the present day. It identifies three major historical cycles: First, the cycle of state and nation building, 1821-1898, second, the cycle of national expansion and consolidation, 1899-1949, and third, the post-1950 cycle of economic and social development. During these two hundred years, the country and the economy have been radically transformed. Compared to the first Greek state, Greece managed to almost triple its national territory, to increase its population by almost 15 times and to increase its real GDP per capita by another 15 times. From the margins of south-eastern Europe, it has moved to the core of todayÕs European Union. The paper focuses on the main determinants of economic performance during these cycles, with particular emphasis on the role and interactions of social and economic conditions, ideas, institutions and geopolitics. During the first two cycles, the economy underperformed, as state building and the pursuit of the Ôgreat ideaÕ were the top national priorities. Despite the early introduction of appropriate economic institutions, fiscal and monetary instability prevailed in the context of a relatively stagnant economy, due to wars, internal conflicts and the international environment. The economy and the welfare state only became a top priority during the third cycle, when a number of domestic and international factors contributed to economic and social development. Greece seems to have largely achieved many of its national goals, having consolidated both its borders and democratic institutions and become a relatively prosperous country in the core of the European union, despite the alternation of triumphs and disasters and the frequent occurrence of wars and internal conflicts, debt crises, ÔdefaultsÕ or economic depressions. Yet many problems remain and the challenge for the future is to focus on reforms that will ensure even higher security and prosperity for the future generations of Greeks.
    Keywords: Modern Greece, economic history, institutions, economic growth, fiscal policy, monetary policy
    Date: 2021–04
  5. By: Yamasaki, Junichi; Nakajima, Kentaro; Teshima, Kensuke
    Abstract: Can transaction costs in the urban land market generate lot size persistence and persistently hinder efficient land use? Using historical data in Tokyo, we study how initial lot fragmentation has affected urban development by exploiting the plausibly exogenous supply shock of large lots in 1868, the release of local lords’ estates (daimyo yashiki) scattered throughout old Tokyo, now the central business district. We construct a 100 m*100 m-cell-level dataset spanning 150 years. Using ordinary least squares and a regression discontinuity design, we find that cells previously used as local lords’ estates have larger lots today, implying that lot size persistence exists. We also find positive effects on land use and activities, that is, taller buildings, higher land prices, and higher firm productivity, implying lot size premia due to assembly frictions. We provide two pieces of evidence that these positive effects are explained by the growth of skyscrapers requiring large footprints. First, tall buildings explain the effect of local lords’ estates on firm productivity today. Second, we find no positive impact on land prices before the skyscraper age. Instead, it was negative, suggesting that split frictions were dominant at that time and assembly frictions became more relevant with the emergence of skyscrapers.
    Keywords: Transaction costs, Historical persistence, Skyscrapers, Lot fragmentation, Agglomeration economy
    JEL: R14 R30 O18 N95
    Date: 2021–03
  6. By: Antonin Bergeaud (Banque de France - Banque de France - Banque de France); Gilbert Cette (Banque de France - Banque de France - Banque de France, AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université); Rémy Lecat (Banque de France - Banque de France - Banque de France)
    Abstract: This study compares GDP per capita levels and growth rates across 17 advanced economies over the period 1890–2013 using an accounting breakdown and runs Phillips and Sul (Econometrica 75(6):1771–1855, 2007) convergence tests. An overall convergence process has been at work among advanced economies, mainly after WWII, driven mostly by capital intensity and then TFP, while trends in hours worked and employment rates are disparate. However, this convergence process came to a halt during technology shocks, during the two world wars and since the 1990s, with the convergence of advanced economies stopping far from the level of US GDP per capita.
    Keywords: GDP per capita,Productivity,Convergence,Technological change,Global history
    Date: 2020–11
  7. By: Kris James Mitchener; Kirsten Wandschneider; Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
    Abstract: We document the outbreak of a trade war after the U.S. adopted the Smoot-Hawley tariff in June 1930. U.S. trade partners initially protested the possible implementation of the sweeping tariff legislation, with many eventually choosing to retaliate by increasing their tariffs on imports from the United States. Using a new quarterly dataset on bilateral trade for 99 countries during the interwar period, we show that U.S. exports to countries that protested fell by between 15 and 22 percent, while U.S. exports to retaliators fell by 28-33 percent. Furthermore, using a second new dataset on U.S. exports at the product-level, we find that the most important U.S. exports to retaliating markets were particularly affected, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby the U.S. was targeted despite countries’ MFN obligations. The retaliators’ welfare gains from trade fell by roughly 8-17%.
    JEL: F13 F14 N70 N72
    Date: 2021–03
  8. By: John M. Barrios; Yael Hochberg; Daniele Macciocchi
    Abstract: How do geographic and historical-cultural factors shape new business formation? Using novel data on new business registrations, we document that 75% of the variation in new business formation is explained by time-invariant county-level factors and examine the extent to which such variation is driven by historical, cultural, and geographic factors. Current-day new business formation is positively related to historical attributes that presage individualist culture: frontier experience and historical birthplace diversity, as well as the county’s topographical features. The relation holds when we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in frontier experience driven by shocks to the settlement process that arise from historical immigration flows. Our study points to the fundamental role of geographic and historical-cultural features, especially rugged individualism, in explaining contemporary new business formation in the U.S.
    JEL: L26 N3 N9 O1 O43
    Date: 2021–03
  9. By: Cormac Ó Gráda; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke (Division of Social Science)
    Abstract: We provide a centennial overview of the Irish economy in the one hundred years following partition and independence. A comparative perspective allows us to distinguish between those aspects of Irish policies and performance that were unique to the country, and those which mirrored developments elsewhere. While Irish performance was typical in the long run, the country under-performed prior to the mid-1980s and overperformed for the rest of the twentieth century. Real growth after 2000 was slow. The mainly chronological narrative highlights the roles of convergence forces, trade and industrial policy, and monetary and fiscal policy. While the focus is mostly on the south of the island, we also survey the Northern Irish experience during this period.
    Date: 2021–04
  10. By: David S. Jacks; Martin Stuermer
    Abstract: We provide evidence on the dynamic effects of fuel price shocks, shipping demand shocks, and shipping supply shocks on real dry bulk freight rates in the long run. We first analyze a new dataset on dry bulk freight rates for the period from 1850 to 2020, finding that they followed a downward but undulating path with a cumulative decline of 79%. Next, we turn to understanding the drivers of booms and busts in the dry bulk shipping industry, finding that shipping demand shocks strongly dominate all others as drivers of real dry bulk freight rates in the long run. Furthermore, while shipping demand shocks have increased in importance over time, shipping supply shocks in particular have become less relevant.
    JEL: E30 N70 R40
    Date: 2021–03
  11. By: Jason Poulos
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of Reconstruction-era amnesty policy on the officeholding and wealth of planter elites in the postbellum U.S. South. Amnesty policy restricted the political and economic rights of the planter class for nearly three years during Reconstruction. The paper estimates the effects of being excepted from amnesty on elites' future wealth and political power using a regression discontinuity design. Results on a sample of delegates to Reconstruction conventions show that exclusion from amnesty substantially decreases the likelihood of holding political office. I find no evidence that exclusion from amnesty impacted later census wealth for Reconstruction delegates or for a larger sample of known slaveholders who lived in the South in 1860. These findings are in line with previous studies evidencing changes to the identity of the political elite and continuity of economic mobility for the planter elite across the Civil War and Reconstruction.
    Date: 2021–03
  12. By: Pramod Kumar Sur; Masaru Sasaki
    Abstract: More than half a century has passed since the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961), and China has transformed from a poor, underdeveloped country to the world's leading emerging economy. Does the effect of the famine persist today? To explore this question, we combine historical data on province-level famine exposure with contemporary data on individual wealth. To better understand if the relationship is causal, we simultaneously account for the well-known historical evidence on the selection effect arising for those who survive the famine and those born during this period, as well as the issue of endogeneity on the exposure of a province to the famine. We find robust evidence showing that famine exposure has had a considerable negative effect on the contemporary wealth of individuals born during this period. Together, the evidence suggests that the famine had an adverse effect on wealth, and it is even present among the wealthiest cohort of individuals in present-day China.
    Date: 2021–04
  13. By: David Krisztián Nagy
    Abstract: A rapidly growing literature uses quantitative general equilibrium models of economic geography to study the economic impact of historical events such as the railroad revolution, industrial take-off, structural transformation and wars. I identify three key challenges facing this literature: the tractability of model structure, the availability of historical data, and issues related to identification. I review the literature by discussing how it has been addressing each of these challenges. While doing so, I point out the rich set of questions that this literature can address, as well as the methodological innovations it has conducted to answer these questions.
    Date: 2021–03
  14. By: Klimczuk, Andrzej; Perkins, Fatima
    Abstract: An area agency on aging (AAA) is a public or private nonprofit organization designated by the state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels in the United States (Administration for Community Living (ACL) 2019). AAAs have a successful history of developing, coordinating, and implementing comprehensive networks of services and programs that enrich communities and the lives of older adults. AAAs were established through a provision of the Older Americans Act (OAA 1965), which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Specifically, AAAs were created with the 1973 reauthorization of the OAA. AAAs create the infrastructure to execute comprehensive long-term support services that ensure the independence of older adults.
    Keywords: Aging and disability resource centers; Information about public services for older people and people with disabilities; Resources for older citizens, people with disabilities and their families; Support, services, and information for older people and people with disabilities
    JEL: J14 J18
    Date: 2020
  15. By: Mitchell, Matt; Riches, Jon; Thorson, Veronica; Philpot, Anne (Mercury Publication)
    Abstract: Abstract not available.
    Date: 2020–03–24
  16. By: Kota Ogasawara; Erika Igarashi
    Abstract: This study uses the unprecedented changes in the sex ratio due to the losses of men during World War II to identify the impacts of the gender imbalance on marriage market and birth outcomes in Japan. Using newly digitized census-based historical statistics, we find evidence that men had a stronger bargaining position in the marriage market and intra-household fertility decisions than women. Under relative male scarcity, while people, especially younger people, were more likely to marry and divorce, widowed women were less likely to remarry than widowed men. We also find that women's bargaining position in the marriage market might not have improved throughout the 1950s. Given the institutional changes in the abortion law after the war, marital fertility and stillbirth rates increased in the areas that suffered relative male scarcity. Our result on out-of-wedlock births indicates that the theoretical prediction of intra-household bargaining is considered to be robust in an economy in which marital fertility is dominant.
    Date: 2021–02
  17. By: Yves Crozet (LAET - Laboratoire Aménagement Économie Transports - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENTPE - École Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'État - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IEP Lyon - Sciences Po Lyon - Institut d'études politiques de Lyon - Université de Lyon)
    Abstract: En 1972, le Club de Rome publiait un rapport traduit en français sous le titre Halte à la croissance. Comme l'Histoire est ta-quine, elle déclencha la crise du pétrole de 1973. Le résultat fut en France un doublement immédiat du nombre de chômeurs et la fin des Trente Glorieuses. Vous vouliez la croissance zéro ? La voici !
    Keywords: Impacts macroéconomiques,Covid-19,Crise sanitaire
    Date: 2020
  18. By: Sabaté, Oriol (Department of Political Science, Lund University); Peres-Cajías, José (Departament d’ Història Econòmica, Institutions, Política I Economía Mundial, Universitat de Barcelona)
    Abstract: Las guerras causadas por recursos naturales, aunque sean de alcance militar limitado, pueden tener consecuencias de largo plazo en los ingresos públicos. El éxito militar en una guerra de este tipo puede conducir a la anexión de zonas ricas en recursos naturales por parte de combatientes enemigos, lo que proporciona fuentes económicas valiosas y de fácil extracción impositiva. Sin embargo, la disponibilidad de esos recursos puede desalentar nuevas inversiones en capacidad administrativa, con lo que se pone en riesgo la posibilidad de establecer sistemas fiscales complejos a largo plazo. En este artículo recopilamos nuevos datos fiscales, administrativos y legislativos y utilizamos este marco analítico para explicar los efectos fiscales que la Guerra del Pacífico provocó en las finanzas públicas de Bolivia, Chile y Perú. Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC)
    Keywords: Guerra; recursos naturales; hacienda pública; Guerra del Pacífico; 1879; 1883; Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas; IISEC
    JEL: H11 H20 K34 N46
    Date: 2021–03–30
  19. By: Alan de Bromhead; Alan Fernihough; Markus Lampe; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke (Division of Social Science)
    Abstract: This paper introduces a new dataset of commodity-specific, bilateral import data for four large Asian economies in the interwar period: China, the Dutch East Indies, India, and Japan. It uses these data to describe the interwar trade collapses in the economies concerned. These resembled the post-2008 Great Trade Collapse in some respects but not in others: they occurred along the intensive margin, imports of cars were particularly badly affected, and imports of durable goods fell by more than those of non-durables, except in China and India which were rapidly industrializing. On the other hand the import declines were geographically imbalanced, while prices were more important than quantities in driving the overall collapse.
    Date: 2021–04
  20. By: Irene Brunetti; Davide Fiaschi
    Abstract: This paper presents a model where intergenerational occupational mobility is the joint outcome of three main determinants: income incentives, equality of opportunity and changes in the composition of occupations. The model rationalizes the use of transition matrices to measure mobility, which allows for the identification of asymmetric mobility patterns and for the formulation of a specific mobility index for each determinant. Italian children born in 1940-1951 had a lower mobility with respect to those born after 1965. The steady mobility for children born after 1965, however, covers a lower structural mobility in favour of upper-middle classes and a higher downward mobility from upper-middle classes. Equality of opportunity was far from the perfection but steady for those born after 1965. Changes in income incentives instead played a major role, leading to a higher downward mobility from upper-middle classes and lower upward mobility from the lower class.
    Date: 2021–04
  21. By: Carlos Gradín
    Abstract: This paper presents preliminary evidence of the annual global income distribution since 1950 using a new integrated dataset that aggregates standardized country income distributions at the percentile level estimated from various sources in the World Income Inequality Database. I analyse the extent to which the main global inequality trends depend on specific distributive views, i.e. absolute or relative, or with more emphasis in specific parts of the distribution. The results show absolute inequality increasing almost continuously.
    Keywords: Global inequality, Income distribution, WIID, Income inequality
    Date: 2021
  22. By: Blanca Sánchez-Alonso (Universidad San Pablo-CEU (Madrid)); Carlos Santiago-Caballero (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
    Abstract: Forced migrations and exiles are shocks that affect to the lives of millions of individuals. Among the consequences of this non-voluntary migration, the loss of a significant stock of human capital is of particular importance. The Republican exile in post-civil war Spain is an excellent case study since the traditional representation is that Spain lost highly qualified population. However, not that much has been said about the quantification of this loss or the measurement of the quality of the human capital that left Spain after the end of the civil war. This paper tries to fill this gap offering an estimation of the quality of the human capital that left Spain comparing it with the years that preceded and followed it and with economic migrants who were moving at the same time. Mexico was the major destination for Spanish refugees since the beginning of the Civil War and produced a unique primary source for analysing economic immigrants and refugees. We use multivariable regression models to estimate the existence of a skill premium in Republican refugees, analysing proxies of human capital like occupations, heights, and foreign languages spoken. Our results suggest that Spanish Republican refugees presented a skill premium compared to economic migrants. This result is particularly relevant because traditional economic migrants from Spain to Mexico have been considered a “privileged migration” given their high levels of human capital. The quality of the source allows us to extend the analysis to women human capital, an important contribution given the traditional invisibility of women in recorded economic history.
    Keywords: Human Capital, Refugees, Spanish Civil War
    JEL: N36 J24 J61
    Date: 2021–03

This nep-his issue is ©2021 by Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.