nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2021‒10‒18
38 papers chosen by

  1. Unskilled labour before the Industrial Revolution By Paker, Meredith; Stephenson, Judy; Wallis, Patrick
  2. Red Giant By Bichler, Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan
  3. Pudding, plague and education: trade and human capital formation in an agrarian economy By Kammas, Pantelis; Sakalis, Argyris; Sarantides, Vassilis
  4. When Berle and Galbraith brought political economy back to life : Study of a cross-fertilization (1933-1967) By Alexandre Chirat
  5. Can Institutional Transplants Work? A Reassessment of the Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia By Jeremy Edwards
  6. Metropolitan financial agents and the emergence of inter-regional financial linkages in England and Japan, 1760-1860 By Ishizu, Mina
  7. How the West India trade fostered last resort lending by the Bank of England By Sissoko, Carolyn; Ishizu, Mina
  8. Sticky wages and the Great Depression: evidence from the United Kingdom By Lennard, Jason
  9. Who's Afraid of Evidence-Based Policymaking? By Ori Heffetz; John List
  10. Institutions and the productivity challenge for European regions By Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés
  11. A colonial cash cow: the return on investments in British Malaya, 1889–1969 By Rönnbäck, Klas; Broberg, Oskar; Galli, Stefania
  12. Why We All Must Work By Jon D. Wisman
  13. How families help us thrive at work: Understanding the long reach of family support and family incivility on employee at work By Mayowa T. Babalola.
  14. Life-cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260-1850 By Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
  15. The Interaction of Schumpeterian Institutional Entrepreneurship and Hayekian Institutional Change in Innovative Industries By Henrekson, Magnus; Lakomaa, Erik; Sanandaji, Tino
  16. Economics and American Judaism in the 21st Century By Carmel Chiswick
  17. Trade in coinage, Gresham's Law, and the drive to monetary unification: the Holy Roman Empire, 1519-59 By Volckart, Oliver
  18. Waifs and strays: property rights in late medieval England By Claridge, Jordan; Gibbs, Spike
  19. The Kuznetsian paradigm for the study of modern economic history and the Great Divergence with appendices of literature review and statistical data By Deng, Kent; O'Brien, Patrick
  20. Wealth and History: An Update By Waldenström, Daniel
  21. Reading the economic history of Aghanistan By Roy, Tirthankar
  22. Fiscal policy shocks and stock prices in the United States By Haroon Mumtaz; Konstantinos Theodoridis
  23. Resilience and Path Dependency: Income Distribution Effects of GDP in Colombia By Aysan, Ahmet Faruk; Demirbas, Dilek; Disli, Mustafa; Parra, Monica
  24. Revealing the diversity and complexity behind long-term income inequality in Latin America: a new dataset, 1920-2011 By Astorga Junquera, Pablo
  25. A tale of paper and gold: the material history money in South Africa By Feingold, Ellen; Fourie, Johan; Gardner, Leigh
  26. The effect of nutritional status on historical infectious disease morbidity: evidence from the London Foundling Hospital, 1892-1919 By Schneider, Eric B.
  27. Voting like your betters: the bandwagon effect in the diet of the Holy Roman Empire By Volckart, Oliver
  28. An annual index of Irish industrial production, 1800-1921 By Kenny, Seán; Lennard, Jason; O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj
  29. Productivity Growth and Capital Deepening in the Fourth Industrial Revolution By Martin Fleming
  30. Intergenerational mobility in a mid-Atlantic economy: Canada, 1871-1901 By Antonie, Luiza; Inwood, Kris; Minns, Chris; Summerfield, Fraser
  31. Unequal mortality during the Spanish Flu By Basco, Sergi; Domenech, Jordi; Roses, Joan R.
  32. The merit of misfortune: Taiping Rebellion and the rise of indirect taxation in modern China, 1850s-1900s By Deng, Hanzhi
  33. The Industrial Revolution, an unintended consequence of self-defence? By Prados de la Escosura, Leandro
  34. Does education matter? Tests from extensions of compulsory schooling in England and Wales 1919-21, 1947 and 1972 By Clark, Gregory; Cummins, Neil
  35. The fiscal origins of comparative inequality levels: an empirical and historical investigation By Irarrázaval, Andrés
  36. When ‘the state made war’, what happened to economic inequality? Evidence from preindustrial Germany (c.1400-1800) By Schaff, Felix
  37. Lessons of Keynes’s Economic Consequences in a Turbulent Century By Clavin, P.; Corsetti, G.; Obstfeld, M.; Tooze, A.
  38. Ultra-low tax regime in Imperial China, 1368-1911 By Deng, Kent

  1. By: Paker, Meredith; Stephenson, Judy; Wallis, Patrick
    Abstract: The Industrial Revolution is seen as a major turning point in the management of labour, bringing about employment practices that gave structure and stability to the workforce. This paper provides evidence that employers were using hiring and retention strategies to stabilize the unskilled workforce at least a century before industrialization. We exploit the comprehensive employment records that survive from the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (1672–1748) to reconstruct and analyse the employment history of over one thousand general building labourers, the benchmark category of unskilled workers for economic historians. We show that St. Paul’s was able to stabilize its workforce by establishing a core group of long-standing workers. Tenure was incentivized with more days of work each month on the site, priority in the queue for retention and rehiring in periods of low labour demand, and the opportunity to earn additional income as watchmen. These strategies reduced turnover and may have allowed the Cathedral to retain the most productive workers, reshaping our understanding of when modern employment practices emerged.
    Keywords: labour markets; construction; unskilled labour; churn; job creation; tenure; early modern; construction workers
    JEL: N33 N63 N83 J21 J22 J23
    Date: 2021–01
  2. By: Bichler, Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan
    Abstract: In 2012, we published a paper in the Journal of Critical Globalization Studies titled 'Imperialism and Financialism: The Story of a Nexus'. Our topic was the chameleon-like Marxist notion of imperialism and how its different theories related to finance. Here is the article's summary: Over the past century, the nexus of imperialism and financialism has become a major axis of Marxist theory and praxis. Many Marxists consider this nexus to be a prime cause of our worldly ills, but the historical role they ascribe to it has changed dramatically over time. The key change concerns the nature and direction of surplus and liquidity flows. The first incarnation of the nexus, articulated at the turn of the twentieth century, explained the imperialist scramble for colonies to which finance capital could export its excessive surplus. The next version posited a neo-imperial world of monopoly capitalism where the core's surplus is absorbed domestically, sucked into a black hole of military spending and financial intermediation. The third script postulated a World System where surplus is imported from the dependent periphery into the financial core. And the most recent edition explains the hollowing out of the U.S. core, a red giant that has already burned much of its own productive fuel and is now trying to financialize the rest of the world in order to use the system's external liquidity. The paper outlines this chameleon-like transformation, assesses what is left of the nexus and asks whether it is worth keeping. (p. 42) In the second part of the paper, we looked a little closer at the red-giant argument. Specifically, we wanted to gauge the degree to which U.S. capital had declined and examine whether this decline indeed forced the rest of the world to financialize. And what we found surprised us: the 'financial sector' did seem to become more important everywhere, but its rise was led not by the United States, but by the rest of the world! Our article was published almost a decade ago, so we though it would be interesting to update our figures and see what has changed, if anything.
    Keywords: globalization,imperialism,financialization,United States
    JEL: P16 P26 P48 G3 F5 G1
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Kammas, Pantelis; Sakalis, Argyris; Sarantides, Vassilis
    Abstract: During the late 19th century, the increasing popularity of pudding in England, along with the outbreak of phylloxera plague in French vineyards had an unintended effect in the agrarian economy of Greece. In particular, these events escalated the international demand and production of currants in Greece during the 1870s, causing an unprecedented positive shock that was transmitted through trade in the agricultural population. Using novel data from historical archives, we explore how this exogenous event affected investment towards human capital. Consistent with expectations, in an agrarian economy that specializes in unskilled labour-intensive agricultural goods, this shock had a negative effect on human capital formation.
    Keywords: education; fertility; agriculture; international trad
    JEL: J24 N33 O15
    Date: 2021–10
  4. By: Alexandre Chirat
    Abstract: This paper provides a reconstruction of the intellectual cross-fertilization between Adolf Berle and John Kenneth Galbraith to account for their institutionalist challenge against “conventional economics” so as to bring political economy back to life. To do so, I go back to the genesis of Modern Corporation and Private Property before analyzing Berle and Galbraith’s answers to a set of fundamentals questions. What is the nature of modern competition ? What is the nature of the modern corporation ? What is the role of the State ? Lastly, how should American liberalism be reinvented to cope with the social issues of an affluent society ? Their answers to these questions reveal the deep affinities between the theoretical and political dimensions of their works, so that this work lies at the crossroads of the history of economic thought and the history of American liberalism in the postwar period.
    Keywords: institutionalism - managerialism - liberalism - political economy.
    JEL: B25 B52 D23 M14
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Jeremy Edwards
    Abstract: The institutional reforms France imposed in the parts of Germany it occupied in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are claimed to provide an example of successful externally-imposed institutional reforms. The most detailed study is that of Lecce and Ogliari (2019), who argue that the effectiveness of transplanted French institutions in different parts of Prussia depended on the cultural proximity between France and the relevant part of Prussia. However, Lecce and Ogliari take no account of a widely-recognized feature of nineteenth-century Prussian economic development: the importance of regional effects. The French reforms were concentrated in the west of Prussia, which was more economically advanced than the east before the French invasion, and this pre-existing difference must be disentangled from the effect of the French reforms in order to identify the effect of the latter. Once this is done, the evidence shows neither any favourable effect of French rule nor an effect of cultural proximity on the impact of French rule.
    Keywords: institutional reform, regional effects, omitted variable bias
    JEL: N13 O43 O52
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Ishizu, Mina
    Keywords: financial agents; inter-regional financial relationships; provincial towns; early industrialisation
    JEL: N20 N23 N25 N83 N85
    Date: 2021–06
  7. By: Sissoko, Carolyn; Ishizu, Mina
    Keywords: West India trade; lender of last resort; banking crises; banking system
    JEL: N23 N73
    Date: 2021–01
  8. By: Lennard, Jason
    Abstract: How sticky were wages during the Great Depression? Although classic accounts emphasize the importance of nominal rigidity in amplifying deflationary shocks, the evidence is limited. In this paper, I calculate the degree of nominal wage rigidity in the United Kingdom between the wars using new granular data covering millions of wages. I find that nominal wages were more flexible downwards than in most modern economies, but that the frequency and magnitude of wage cuts were too low to fully offset deflation
    Keywords: Great Depression; interwar Britain; nominal rigidity
    JEL: E30 N14
    Date: 2021–10–01
  9. By: Ori Heffetz; John List
    Abstract: Carefully designed scientific experiments have been an engine of economic, technological, and social progress for well over a century, which is why the public generally trusts such methods. Unfortunately, governments around the world still routinely oppose controlled trials of public policies.
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés
    Abstract: Europe has witnessed a considerable labour productivity slowdown in recent decades. Many potential explanations have been proposed to address this productivity ‘puzzle’. However, how the quality of local institutions influences labour productivity has been overlooked by the literature. This article addresses this gap by evaluating how institutional quality affects labour productivity growth and, particularly, its determinants at the regional level during the period 2003–2015. The results indicate that institutional quality influences regions’ labour productivity growth both directly—as improvements in institutional quality drive productivity growth—and indirectly—as the short- and long-run returns of human capital and innovation on labour productivity growth are affected by regional variations in institutional quality.
    Keywords: Labour productivity; institutional quality; physical capital; human capital; innovation; regions; Europe; OUP deal
    JEL: R14 J01 N0
    Date: 2021–06–10
  11. By: Rönnbäck, Klas; Broberg, Oskar; Galli, Stefania
    Abstract: Historical rates of return on investments have received increasing scholarly attention in recent years. Much literature has focused especially on colonies, where institutions have been argued to facilitate severe exploitation. In the present study, we examine the return on investments in an Asian colony, British Malaya, from 1889 to 1969 for a large sample of companies. Our results suggest that the return on investments in Malaya might have been among the highest in the world during the period studied. Nevertheless, this finding fits badly with theories of imperial exploitation and can only to a limited extent be explained by a higher risk premium. Instead, we argue that the main driver of the very high return on investments in Malaya was rather the substantial rise in global market prices of the output of the two main sectors of the Malayan economy, rubber and tin. The way that the process of decolonization unfolded in Malaya did, furthermore, not lead to any major nationalization of foreign-held assets, and did thereby not disrupt the return on investment in the region in the same way as decolonization did to the return on investment in some other colonies.
    Keywords: Asia; colonialism; imperialism; Malaya; return on investments; twentieth century
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2021–02–12
  12. By: Jon D. Wisman
    Abstract: Much, if not most work has been debased since the rise of the state 5,500 years ago. Because most workers lack ownership, control, or readily access to productive wealth, they must locate owners willing to provide them with employment, those failing to do so suffer the material, social, and psychological costs of unemployment. Because owners possess control over the work process, workers can be bossed about, often to perform unpleasant and dangerous work. Yet for the first 97 percent of human history – that prior to state societies -- all had equal access to the means of production, providing them with control over their work. Anthropological research reveals that work for pre-state peoples was democratically performed and pleasurable. Biological evolution also predicts that work would have been naturally selected to be pleasurable to better motivate its performance and hence survival. Diligent work served as a source of status and self-respect, enhancing reproductive success by signaling to potential mates a capacity to provision offspring. This article claims that even had the debasement of work been necessary for eventually producing today’s abundance, it no longer is. Two reforms, both preserving capitalism’s two principal institutions of private property and markets, would transform work to provide greater human flourishing: guaranteed employment at living wages with reskilling where necessary, and measures to promote workplace democracy. These reforms would eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, prepare economies for future technological dynamism and globalization, and by better enabling social and self-respect through work and community, would reduce the pressure to do so through consumption, thereby lowering ecological devastation.
    Keywords: Debased work, ideology, human flourishing, guaranteed employment, workplace democracy.
    JEL: B15 I31 P13 Z1
    Date: 2021
  13. By: Mayowa T. Babalola.
    Date: 2021
  14. By: Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
    Abstract: We provide a framework for considering the living standards among intact and disrupted working-class families of various sizes in historical England. We estimate family incomes without resort to the usual male day wages and ahistorical assumptions about men’s labour inputs, instead using approximations of their annual earnings. We incorporate women and children’s wages and labour inputs and use a family life-cycle approach which accommodates consumption smoothing through saving. The analysis extends to families with often overlooked but historically common structures: widows with their children, deserted wives, and families which include husbands/fathers but ones unable or unwilling to work. Our framework suggests living standards varied considerably over time and by family structure and dependency ratio. Small and intact families enjoyed high and rising living standards after 1700. Large, broken, and disrupted families depended on child labour and poor relief up until 1830.
    Keywords: child labour; consumption soothing; costs-of-living; dependency ratio; life cycle; living standards; poor relief; prices; wages
    JEL: J22 N13 O10
    Date: 2020–10
  15. By: Henrekson, Magnus (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Lakomaa, Erik (Institute for Economic and Business History Research (EHFF)); Sanandaji, Tino (Institute for Economic and Business History Research (EHFF))
    Abstract: Innovation often takes place in entrepreneurial ecosystems. We use the history of the Silicon Valley venture capital model and the Hollywood motion picture industry to illustrate how specialized institutions that regulate these entrepreneurial ecosystems emerged through actions by business entrepreneurs, rather than being designed by policymakers. Schumpeterian entrepreneurs not only create new companies; they also create new institutions as an integral part of the restructuring process. At times, efforts of identifiable entrepreneurs are crucial, while in other instances institutional change results from a Hayekian process of emergence fueled by business entrepreneurs’ efforts. Some institutions remain informal, whereas others become formalized. The greater room to forge institutions through business practices may in part account for the higher rates of entrepreneurship observed in common law countries.
    Keywords: Entrepreneurship policy; High-impact entrepreneurship; Innovation; Institutional entrepreneurship; Schumpeterian entrepreneurship
    JEL: L26 M13 O31 P14
    Date: 2021–10–12
  16. By: Carmel Chiswick (George Washington University)
    Abstract: American Judaism is viewed from an economic perspective. Non-traditional family units and non-traditional religious practices are now persistent features of American Jewry. Incentives affecting the education, family formation and consumption patterns of American Jews are shown to have implications for patterns of Jewish observance and for the American Jewish community. Comparing US religious pluralism with Israel's state-sponsored Rabbinate suggests stresses as well as complementarities between the two largest Jewish communities, including a rise in anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Forecasting the future of American Judaism is based on trends in economic conditions and changes in religious institutions affecting its cultural context.
    Keywords: economics, demography, religion, Judaism, pluralism, consumption, value of time, cost of Judaism, Israel, anti-Semitism
    JEL: Z12 J19 D10
    Date: 2021
  17. By: Volckart, Oliver
    Abstract: Research on premodern monetary unions has so far started out from the idea that such unions were designed to promote trade and economic integration. The present paper demonstrates that this in an anachronistic misconception. Premodern monetary unions were the answer to political and fiscal problems caused by Gresham’s Law in a monetary environment characterised permeable borders and by the increasing integration of currency markets. As integration advanced significantly in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the regional monetary unions that had been formed in the late medieval Holy Roman Empire were increasingly insufficient to address these problems. This is why the imperial estates were interested in creating and Empire-wide common currency – an aim they reached at the end of the 1550s.
    JEL: B11 O52 N0 J1
    Date: 2021–04
  18. By: Claridge, Jordan; Gibbs, Spike
    Abstract: This article seeks to provide new insights into long-standing debates on lord-tenant relations and how they were negotiated through the manorial court in medieval England. This is accomplished through a study of the "stray system": an institution within which lords and tenants cooperated to manage stray livestock. Specifically, the article argues that the stray system is a clear example of the "public good." In a world where most of the population was reliant on an unproductive agriculture, subject to the vagaries of the enivronment, to provide a basic livelihood, any potential damage to a crop would have been a very real concern. However, in managing the threat of wandering livestock, the property rights of owners had to be clearly protected to avoid violent disputes stemming from accusations of theft and conflict over ownership. The manorial court's management of strays provided an institution to resolve these countervailing pressures. Ultimately, it protected a community's arable land - the most vital source of income for lords and tenants alike - whilst simultaneously assuring the property rights of those who had lost important capital assets in the form of livestock.
    Keywords: medieval; agriculture; property rights; livestock; law; federalism
    JEL: N00 N01 N53 N43 N73 O13 O31 P11 P14 P16 P20 P21 Q00 Q15
    Date: 2020–11
  19. By: Deng, Kent; O'Brien, Patrick
    Keywords: Kuznetsian paradigm; GDP; Great Divergence Debate; Eurocentrism; backward extrapolations; margins of error
    JEL: B41 C80 N01 O47
    Date: 2021–01
  20. By: Waldenström, Daniel (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: This paper analyzes new evidence on long-run trends in aggregate wealth accumulation and wealth inequality in Western countries. The new findings suggest that wealth-income ratios were lower before World War I than previously claimed, that wealth concentration fell over the past century and has remained low in Europe but increased in the United States, that wealth has changed from being dominated by elite-owned fortunes to consist mainly of popular wealth, and that capital shares in national income have been relatively stable over time, especially in the postwar era. These findings cast doubt on claims that a low-tax, low-regulation capitalism will generate extreme capital accumulation, and that persistent wealth equalization requires large shocks to capital coming from wars or progressive taxation. Instead, institutions that promote household wealth accumulation from below appear to be key for understanding the long-run evolution of wealth in Western societies.
    Keywords: Wealth-income ratios; Wealth Inequality; Capital share; Economic history
    JEL: D30 E21 N30
    Date: 2021–10–14
  21. By: Roy, Tirthankar
    Abstract: Twentieth-century Afghanistan offers a lesson for the historian of comparative economic development. Two conditions help to understand Afghan history better, resource poverty and the absence of European colonial rule. In a resource-poor region, the possibility of rapid economic change depends to a great extent on the capability and stability of the states; at the same time, attempts to create strong centres of power with a weak tax base can generate debilitating conflicts. European colonialists in some cases managed to overcome the dilemma. In the absence of colonialism, old elites and old rivalries survived and intensified the conflict. These two features appeared in the histories of many of the world’s poor regions. They shaped the process of economic and political change in Afghanistan with great force.
    JEL: N45 N55 O10 O53 P16
    Date: 2020–10
  22. By: Haroon Mumtaz (Queen Mary University); Konstantinos Theodoridis (ESM)
    Abstract: This paper uses structural vector autoregressive models (SVARs) to show that the response of US stock prices to fiscal shocks changed in 1980. Over the period 1955-1979, an expansionary spending or revenue shock was associated with higher stock prices. After 1980, the response of stock prices to the same shock became negative. Using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model with a detailed fiscal sector, we show the pre-1980 results may be driven by an expansion in supply after the fiscal shock. In contrast, endogenous growth mechanisms appear to be weaker in the post-1980 period with positive fiscal shocks pushing down consumption, total factor productivity (TFP), and causing inflation and the real interest rate to rise.
    Keywords: Fiscal policy shocks, Stock prices, VAR, FAVAR, DSGE
    JEL: E24 E32 J64 C11
    Date: 2021–05–17
  23. By: Aysan, Ahmet Faruk; Demirbas, Dilek; Disli, Mustafa; Parra, Monica
    Abstract: This study examines the effect of GDP per capita on the Gini index, which measures income concentration, in Colombia. The methodology used is an econometric analysis of time series with data extracted from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. The econometric results suggest that, at least during the period studied here, there is no evidence that GDP per capita has been an explanatory variable of the behavior of income distribution in Colombia. The results also are in line with the understanding that the problem of inequality in the distribution of income is not merely economic and but concerns persistent matters such as political and historical issues.
    Keywords: GDP, Colombia, Gini index.
    JEL: F0 F02
    Date: 2021–06–05
  24. By: Astorga Junquera, Pablo
    Abstract: The period between 1920 and 1980 is of great importance for the study of inequality in Latin America because of the occurrence of state-led, protected industrialisation amid structural, demographic and institutional transformations. Although there are valuable contributions at the country level, the study of income inequality from a broad regional perspective has been hindered by limitations of comparable metrics. To address this gap a new dataset has been assembled including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. The approach adopted distinguishes four occupational groups: the top group includes employers, managers and professionals; the remaining three groups are defined according to the workers' skill level, largely receiving wage income. This allows for the calculation of inequality between and within groups, as well as overall Ginis for all income and wage income. The frequency of the series is annual, making it possible to track closely inequality trajectories. Despite being a high-inequality region, this new evidence reveals great diversity of outcomes across the six countries and complexity within the occupational structure. There is no single inequality metric that captures the whole story. Looking forward, this dataset opens the door to undertake econometric analysis to unpick the inequality contribution of key drivers such as the terms of trade and structural change.
    Keywords: Income Inequality; Economic Development; Latin America
    JEL: O54 O15 J31
    Date: 2021–10–05
  25. By: Feingold, Ellen; Fourie, Johan; Gardner, Leigh
    Abstract: This paper uses the South African objects in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian to tell a new material history of money in South Africa. In other parts of the continent, research about the currencies in use and how these changed over time have offered a new perspective on the impact of colonialism, commercialisation, and the rise of state capacity. South Africa, and southern Africa more generally, has remained on the periphery of these debates. This paper begins to fill this gap. It shows that even in Africa’s most financially developed region, the process of establishing a stable national currency was long and halting, reflecting struggles over South Africa’s relationship with the global economy and the rise and fall of apartheid.
    Keywords: South Africa; currency; colonialism; mineral; REF Impact Fund
    JEL: N47 N17
    Date: 2021–01
  26. By: Schneider, Eric B.
    Abstract: There is a complex inter-relationship between nutrition and morbidity in human health. Many diseases reduce nutritional status, but on the other hand, having low nutritional status is also known to make individuals more susceptible to certain diseases and to more serious illness. Modern evidence on these relationships, determined after the introduction of antibiotics and vaccines, may not be applicable to historical settings before these medical technologies were available. This paper uses a historical cohort study based on records from the London Foundling Hospital to determine the causal effect of nutritional status of children, proxied by weight- and height-for-age Z-scores, on the odds of contracting five infectious diseases of childhood (measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and whooping cough) and on sickness duration from these diseases. I identify a causal effect by exploiting the randomisation of environmental conditions as foundling children were removed from their original homes, then fostered with families in counties nearby London and later returned to the Foundling Hospital’s main site in London. I find no effect of nutritional status on the odds of contracting the five diseases, but I do find a historically important and statistically significant effect of nutritional status on sickness duration for measles and mumps. These findings have three implications. First, historical incidence of these diseases was unrelated to nutritional status, meaning that poor nutritional status during famines or during the Colombian Exchange did not affect the spread of epidemics. However, undernutrition in these events may have exacerbated measles severity. Second, improving nutritional status in the past 150 years would have reduced the severity of measles and mumps infections but not affect the decline in whooping cough mortality. Finally, selective culling effects from measles would be larger than those from whooping cough since whooping cough severity was not correlated with underlying nutritional status.
    Keywords: morbidity; nutritional status; infectious diseases; health transition
    JEL: N01 N30
    Date: 2021–07
  27. By: Volckart, Oliver
    Abstract: Scholars agree that a core feature of the political style of the Holy Roman Empire was the focus on consensus, without which policies at the level of the Empire were impossible. The present article demonstrates that the consensus on which decisions of the imperial estates was based tended to be superficial and was often in danger of breaking down. This was because the diet’s open and sequential voting procedure allowed the bandwagon effect to distort outcomes. An analysis of the votes cast in the princes’ college of the diet of 1555 shows that low-status members of the college regularly imitated the decisions of high-status voters. Reforming the system would have required accepting that the members of the college were equals – an idea no one was prepared to countenance. Hence, superficial and transitory agreements remained a systematic feature of politics at the level of the Empire.
    Keywords: bandwagon effect; voting; early modern parliamentarism; Holy Roman Empire
    JEL: H11 N43
    Date: 2021–08
  28. By: Kenny, Seán; Lennard, Jason; O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj
    Abstract: We construct an annual index of Irish industrial output for 1800-1921, the period during which the entire island was in a political Union with Great Britain. We also construct a new industrial price index. Irish industrial output grew by an average of 1.4 per cent per annum over the period as a whole, and by 1.8 per cent per annum between 1800 and the outbreak of World War I. Industrial growth was more rapid than previously thought before the Famine, and slower afterwards. While Ireland did not experience deindustrialization either before the Famine or afterwards, its industrial growth was disappointing when considered in a comparative perspective.
    Keywords: Ireland; industrial production; famine; historical national accounts
    JEL: E01 N13 N14
    Date: 2020–11
  29. By: Martin Fleming (The Productivity Institute, The University of Manchester)
    Keywords: industrial revolution, productivity, industry 4.0, capital deepening, technological innovation, creative destruction
    Date: 2021–09
  30. By: Antonie, Luiza; Inwood, Kris; Minns, Chris; Summerfield, Fraser
    Abstract: This paper uses new linked full-count census data for Canada to document intergenerational occupational mobility from 1871 to1901. We find significant differences between Canadian regions and language groups, with linguistic minorities experiencing notably lower rates of intergenerational mobility. International comparisons place Canada midway between other economies in the Americas and the most mobile European societies. Decompositions of overall mobility show that the Canadian experience shared the New World feature of high mobility from manual occupations, but also the Old World feature of greater persistence in white collar jobs.
    Keywords: Canada; intergenerational mobility; social mobility; linkage
    JEL: J62 N31
    Date: 2021–01
  31. By: Basco, Sergi; Domenech, Jordi; Roses, Joan R.
    Abstract: The outburst of deaths and cases of Covid-19 around the world has renewed the interest to understand the mortality effects of pandemics across regions, occupations, age and gender. The Spanish Flu is the closest pandemic to Covid-19. Mortality rates in Spain were among the largest in today’s developed countries. Our research documents a substantial heterogeneity on mortality rates across occupations. The highest mortality was on low-income workers. We also record a rural mortality penalty that reversed the historical urban penalty temporally. The higher capacity of certain social groups to isolate themselves from social contact could explain these mortality differentials. However, adjusting mortality evidence by these two factors, there were still large mortality inter-provincial differences for the same occupation and location, suggesting the existence of a regional component in rates of flu contagion possibly related to climatic differences.
    Keywords: pandemics; health inequality; socio-economic mortality differences; urban penalty
    JEL: D6 I18 J15 N0
    Date: 2021–02
  32. By: Deng, Hanzhi
    Abstract: This article revisits the role of war in state development but goes beyond the scope of Western European nation states. It focuses on the relationship between political disorder and indirect taxation with micro-level evidence in late imperial China. With cross-sectional data for 266 prefectures this article employs quantitative methods to test the positive link between the warfare during the Taiping Rebellion (the greatest threat for the Qing reign) and the rapid rise and pervasive persistence of autonomous self-serving indirect taxation (lijin) institutions. The withering central fiscal role with the growing local fiscal-military needs accounted for this change. This article draws more economic and political implications by linking local fiscal autonomy to the Late Qing industrialization and the development of representative politics. The results demonstrate that the warfare by the Taiping Rebellion provided an unexpected opportunity for China’s fiscal modernization in a bottom-up way and that the impact was long-lasting
    Keywords: political disorder; fiscal capacity; modern China; Taiping Rebellion; indirect taxation
    JEL: H25 N45 O14
    Date: 2021–01
  33. By: Prados de la Escosura, Leandro
    Abstract: This short paper examines Patrick O'Brien's bold reinterpretation of the British Industrial Revolution as a joint result of the expropriation of land by the landed aristocracy, abundant coal endowments, and the unintended consequences of self-defence, in the context of historical literature and contraposes it to evidence on long run growth and inequality and alternative narratives of British industrialisation. It concludes that, by neglecting the contribution of culture and institutions to incentivise investment and innovation, O'Brien lessens the role of the British Industrial Revolution for understanding modern economic growth.
    Keywords: Industrial Revolution; Britain; Mercantilist State; Agriculture; Coal; Growth; Inequality
    JEL: N13 N43 N53 O14 O47
    Date: 2021–10–05
  34. By: Clark, Gregory; Cummins, Neil
    Abstract: Schooling and social outcomes correlate strongly. But are these connections causal? Previous papers for England using compulsory schooling to identify causal effects have produced conflicting results. Some found significant effects of schooling on adult longevity and on earnings, others found no effects. Here we measure the consequence of extending compulsory schooling in England to ages 14, 15 and 16 in the years 1919-22, 1947 and 1972. From administrative data these increases in compulsory schooling added 0.43, 0.60 and 0.43 years of education to the affected cohorts. We estimate the effects of these increases in schooling for each cohort on measures of adult longevity, on dwelling values in 1999 (an index of lifetime incomes), and on the the social characteristics of the places where the affected cohorts died. Since we have access to all the vital registration records, and a nearly complete sample of the 1999 electoral register, we find with high precision that all the schooling extensions failed to increase adult longevity (as had been found previously for the 1947 and 1972 extensions), dwelling values, or the social status of the communities people die in. Compulsory schooling ages 14-16 had no effect, at the cohort level, on social outcomes in England.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2020–12
  35. By: Irarrázaval, Andrés
    Abstract: This research exploits novel evidence on current and historical inequality dynamics, as well as an instrumental variable (IV) strategy (founded on historical settler mortality à la Acemoglu et al.), to document the fundamental role of income redistribution through taxes and transfers in accounting for differences in inequality across regions and historical periods. This research challenges the conventional wisdom about the origins of world-leading inequality levels in Latin America, India or Africa, arguing that inequality is not rooted in the colonial period nor are current inequality levels explained by supposedly persistent “extractive” economic institutions maintaining an unequal playing field. De facto, Latin America, Africa and India have had, in most cases, lower inequality levels than Western countries (i.e. Western Europe and its Offshoots) until the early 20th century. Before this period, no different than in colonized nations, Western countries had a regressive fiscal system which required the poorest taxpayers to fund public services that benefited richer households. The IV strategy, and the evidence on inequality dynamics, both indicate that contemporary inequality differences are a product of the 20th century. The emergence of redistributive policies due to democratization, which have taken place in the past century, have led to an exceptional inequality reduction in Western countries. Despite that Latin America and India have converged towards “inclusive” economic institutions, high inequality has persisted through a regressive fiscal equilibrium which still is largely in place due to a slower democratization process.
    Keywords: inequality; redistribution; institutions; colonialism; Latin America; India
    JEL: D02 D31 D63 D72 F54 H23 N30 O15 O17 P16
    Date: 2020–11
  36. By: Schaff, Felix
    Abstract: What was the impact of military conflict on economic inequality? This paper presents new evidence about the relationship between military conflicts and economic inequality in preindustrial Germany, between 1400 and 1800. I argue that ordinary military conflicts increased economic inequality. Warfare raised the financial needs of towns in preindustrial times, leading to more resource extraction from the population. This resource extraction happened via inegalitarian channels, such as regressive taxation. The Thirty Years’ War was a unique exception to that pattern but not the rule. To test this argument a novel panel dataset is constructed combining information about economic inequality in 72 localities and 687 conflicts over four centuries. The analysis suggests that there existed two countervailing effects of conflicts on inequality: destruction and extraction. The Thirty Years’ War was indeed a “Great Leveller” (Scheidel 2017), but the many ordinary conflicts – paradigmatic of life in the preindustrial world– were continuous reinforcers of economic inequality.
    Keywords: wealth; inequality; warfare; institutions; political economy; Germany
    JEL: N33 D31 I32 N43 H20
    Date: 2020–10
  37. By: Clavin, P.; Corsetti, G.; Obstfeld, M.; Tooze, A.
    Abstract: Just over a century old, John Maynard Keynes’s The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) remains a seminal document of the twentieth century. At the time, the book was a prescient analysis of political events to come. In the decades that followed, this still controversial text became an essential ingredient in the unfolding of history. In this essay, we review the arc of experience since 1919 from the perspective of Keynes’s influence and his changing understanding of economics, politics, and geopolitics. We identify how he, his ideas, and this text became key reference points during times of turbulence as actors sought to manage a range of shocks. Near the end of his life, Keynes would play a central role in planning the world economy’s reconstruction after World War II. We argue that the “global order†that evolved since then, marked by increasingly polarized societies, leaves the community of nations ill prepared to provide key global public goods or to counter critical collective threats.
    Keywords: Keynes, World War I, Versailles, interwar period, League of Nations, World War II, Bretton Woods, Cold War, multilateralism, global order
    JEL: B30 E10 E30 F30 F40 N10 N20
    Date: 2021–10–05
  38. By: Deng, Kent
    Keywords: state-peasant alliance; benevolent rule; rent-seeking; tax-burden; mass rebellions; village autonomy
    JEL: B10 H11 N35 N45
    Date: 2021–02

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.