Working Papers

The Malthusian "preventive check" mechanism has been well documented for pre-industrial England through evidence for a negative correlation between the marriage rate and the price of wheat.  Other literature, however, speculates that the correlation was in fact positive from the early nineteenth century.  This paper uses the cointegrated VAR model and recursive estimation techniques to document the changing relationship between nuptiality and the price of wheat from 1541-1965.  The relationship is indeed positive from the early nineteenth century to the First World War.  A simple theoretical model shows that this result is not in fact inconsistent with a stylized Malthusian mechnanism, and can be understood within the context of an increasing dominance of shocks to aggregate demand rather than to aggregate supply.

JEL Codes: J1, N3

Reference: 067

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Authors: Roman Studer

Nov 2007

By analysing a newly compiled data base of grain prices, this article finds that prior to the nineteenth century the grain trade in India was essentially local, while more distant markets remained fragmented.  It was only in the second half of the nineteenth century that market integration accelerated, so that by the end of the century a national grain market had emerged.  The paper also contributes to the comparative great divergence debate, in that it rejects, for India, the claim of the California School of 'Asia' having reached a similar stage of economic development as Europe before the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century.  In a larger context, this contribution can thus be seen as part of the larger counter-revoution against the iconoclasm of the California School.

Reference: 068

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Authors: Jane Humphries, Tim Leunig

Mar 2007

Authors: Regina Grafe, M.A. Irigoin

Nov 2006

Social scientists use the history of Spain and her empire as a standard against which they have sought to establish the relatively superior efficiency of Anglo-Saxon institutions. This historical `experiment` underpins the core argument of new-institutional economic history. This paper argues that such comparisons have departed from a misleading characterisation of Spanish rule in the metropolis and overseas. For some time historians of Spain and Colonial Spanish America have emphasized that the Spanish system of governance was highly negotiated rather than absolutist. This is confirmed in the workings of the peninsular and colonial fiscal systems. This paper shows that revenues were not extracted to Madrid but instead widely re-distributed across regions. Contrarily to received wisdom there was a great degree of local autonomy in managing and allocating these intra-regional transfers of revenues. The crown barely controlled the system; yet, it acted as the ultimate arbiter of a very flexible arrangement that effected ultimately the distribution of the fiscal burden across colonial regions and economic sectors. This set-up explains the lack of serious challenges from within during 300 years of imperial rule. Napoleon`s invasion of Spain in 1808 and the abduction of the Spanish king caused a major shock to this system of redistribution. The implosion of Spanish rule led to conflict over revenues and resources among constituent parts of the empire. The search for a legitimate replacement ruler that ensued consumed the following century in postcolonial Latin America. A comparable pattern of constitutional failure, political instability - and poor economic performance - was replicated in Spain throughout the nineteenth century.

Reference: 065

Individual View

Accounts of the British fertility decline have turned on the rise of the male breadwinner family, which by placing the responsibility for supporting women and children on men converted them to a preference for smaller families. This paper uses working-class autobiography of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to develop understanding of sources of income and patterns of dependency and to illuminate the motives towards smaller families. Even before 1800 fathers` duties were to work hard to support their families, but male responsibilities did not extend to stretching male wages to cover the variable demands of smaller or larger families. Mothers often sacrificed their own diets and wellbeing to stretch resources. Yet for them children were supports as well as burdens. Sons could earn more than their mothers and surrendered their earnings willingly. Through the family, resources were transferred from older working children to younger dependent siblings. Children`s diets and schooling were eroded by the appearance of new babies and their entry into early work prompted by the burden of dependency. Their experiences as family members and child workers were recycled with a lag into recognition of the costs of larger families and slowly and imperfectly into agreement about the need for fertility control.

Reference: 064

Individual View

Authors: Mohammad Niaz Asadullah

Jul 2006

This paper documents the regional divide in educational facilities between East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan between 1947 and 1971. During this period, the total number of primary schools in East Pakistan declined, leading to overcrowding of existing schools and classrooms. On the other hand, despite being endowed with fewer schools, West Pakistan surpassed East Pakistan in the total number of primary schools, and in teacher-student ratios. This evident educational disparity, we argue, cannot be attributed to regional differences in school age population, school types, the quality and unit cost of schooling. Rather, this problem is examined in terms of the hypothesis of `discrimination` as an alternate explanation.

JEL Codes: I20, N35, N950

Keywords: Economic History, Federalism, Bangladesh, Pakistan

Reference: 063

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Authors: Regina Grafe, Camilla Brautaset

Jun 2006

Interpreting the role of expanding transport in overall production growth in the nineteenth century is still hampered by our lack of understanding of how much and when ocean shipping costs began to fall. This paper exploits new output and freight rate data for one of the world`s largest merchant fleets, the Norwegian, 1830-66. We argue that the price of an average shipped ton-mile was subject to three sources of returns to scale. We test for the impact of a changing composition of produced output (the `composition effect`) to account for economies of scope and offer an alternative index for the price of the average ton-mile that shows a strongly falling trend for the entire period. We then turn to the effect that increasing maturity of new routes had on prices, thus analysing returns to an increased network density finding strong evidence for their existence. Finally, we investigate the importance of internal scale economies in firm and ship size based on a cost survey conducted in 1867-70.

JEL Codes: N70, F02, R40

Reference: 062

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Authors: Natalia Mora-Sitja

Apr 2006

This paper provides estimates of wage dispersion in nineteenth-century Barcelona and documents the compression of the pay distribution between 1856 and 1905. A decomposition of inequality changes by sector and gender leads to two conclusions. First, that most of the changes occurred within each industry, of which the textile industry stands out; and second that although traditional analyses of changes in earnings inequality tend to ignore female labour and earnings arising from piecework, these seem to be, togther with the new factory discipline, the key factors in explaining shifts in earnings inequality in industrializing societies.

Reference: 061

Individual View

Authors: Avner Offer

Sep 2005

Automobile depreciation rates and dealer markups in the United States and Britain during the 1950s and 1960s provide evidence on the effect of asymmetric information on market structures. Initial depreciation was not exceptional, and trade was not disabled. `Lemon` effects were evident in some periods but not others. Depreciation and markups increased with mechanical and styling uncertainty. Adverse selection kicked in as cars aged: high selling costs caused dealers to withdraw from trading older cars. Despite their lower quality, British makes depreciated less, probably due to different novelty signals and longer styling cycles.

Reference: 060

Individual View

Authors: Federico Varese

Jul 2005

What are the conditions conducive to long-term transplantation of mafia groups in new territories? This paper systematically reviews a number of factors that facilitate such an outcome, including: migration from territories with high mafia density; the policy of forcing criminals to resettle outside their region of origin; the existence of mafia wars; two different systems of recruitment into mafia families (merit- and kin-based recruitment); the level of interpersonal trust in the new territory; and the demand for criminal protection. The paper then explores two attempts at transplantation by members of the Calabria-based mafia group `Ndrangheta to the town of Bardonecchia (Piedmont region) and to Verona (Veneto region). While the former case was successful, the latter failed. The paper concludes that features of the local economy - the presence of significant sectors of the economy unprotected by the state and a local rather than export orientation - generate a demand for criminal protection, especially protection against competition, and a demand for services of dispute settlement. Successful transplantation occurs in the presence of such a demand. Generalized migration or forced resettlement of mafiosi are not sufficient to predict transplantation. The paper shows that a high level of interpersonal trust among local law-abiding residents is not sufficient to hinder mafia transplantation, contrary to established theories of social capital and trust.

Reference: 059

Individual View

For over a quarter century anthropometric historians have struggled to identify and measure the numerous factors that affect adult stature, which depends upon diet, disease and physical activity from conception to maturity. I simplify this complex problem by assessing nutritional status in a particular year using synthetic longitudinal data created from measurements of children born in the same year but measured at adjacent ages, which are abundantly available from 28,000 slave manifests housed at the National Archives. I link this evidence with annual measures of economic conditions and new measures of the disease environment to test hypotheses of slave owner behavior. Height-by-age profiles furnish clear evidence that owners substantially managed slave health. The short-term evidence shows that weather affected growth via exposure to pathogens and that owners modified net nutrition in response to sustained price signals.

Reference: 058

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Authors: Pablo Astorga, Ame R. Bergés, Valpy Fitzgerald

Mar 2005

Using a new database for the whole 1900-2000 period, this paper estimates the relative contribution of endogenous and exogenous factors in GDP and productivity growth in each of the six larger Latin American economies with multivariate annual models, and complements these with a single aggregate model using panel data by decade to test for convergence within the region and with the US. Our method is innovative as it includes external economic shocks as well as endogenous growth variables. The main findings are: (i) that investment contributed most to growth during the middle of the century when the region was relatively closed to the world economy and state was proactive; (ii) that the six main economies did converge considerably over the century due to improvements in resource allocation, advances in health and education and increased investment effort; (iii) that these improvements were not, however, enough to produce convergence between Latin America and US; and (iv) that terms of trade volatility, trade and interest rate shocks were a major obstacle to both sustained economic growth and catching up.

JEL Codes: I31, O47, N16

Keywords: Economic History, Economic Growth, Latin America

Reference: 057

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Authors: Nicholas Dimsdale, N.H. Horsewood, A. van Riel

Nov 2004

This paper contributes to the debate on the causes of unemployment in interwar Germany. It applies the Layard-Nickell model of the labour market to interwar Germany, using a new quarterly data set. The basic model is extended to capture the effects of the tariff wage under the Weimar Republic and the Nazis. The estimated equations suggest that demand shocks, combined with nominal inertia in the labour market, were important in explaining unemployment. In addition real wage pressures due to the political processes of wage determination were a major influence on unemployment. Negative demand shocks appear to have been initially domestic and to have started before the impact of the World Depression. Both negative developments on the demand side of the economy and pressures coming from the supply side raised unemployment in the slump. In the recovery the wage policies of the Nazis and the revival of demand both contributed to the fall in unemployment. The mutual reinforcement of these factors may help to explain the severity of the interwar cycle in Germany. It also serves to emphasize the close connection between political and economic processes in this important episode in macroeconomic history.

JEL Codes: N14, E24, E32

Keywords: Great Depression, Germany, Real Wages, Unemployment

Reference: 056

Individual View

Authors: Regina Grafe

May 2004

Studies of consumption in early modern Europe fall into two groups. Some have looked at the overall supply of nutritional components to the average consumer in an attempt to trace standards of living. Others have examined the changing demand for particular goods by specific consumers to understand the way in which new goods and cultural and taste changes impacted on the economy. Few have tried to look at the interactions between both. By combining the contradictory evidence coming from supply and demand sides, new interpretations of the evidence emerge. Data on the supply of dried salted codfish (bacalao) to the Iberian markets and data available on the consumption of this good by specific groups of consumers are used to explain how this fish became a staple foodstuff in the Iberian diet. The existing literature has invoked both religion and cheapness as explanatory variables. This paper argues that both played an important role but that the overall increase was ultimately driven by the slow but continuous integration of more consumers into the market between 1600 and 1800.

JEL Codes: N33

Reference: 055

Individual View

Authors: Ame R. Bergés, Valpy Fitzgerald

Mar 2004

Assessing the economic development of Latin America during the twentieth century requires reliable estimates of living standards as measured by per capita income, life expectancy, and literacy. New comparable series for Latin America suggest that these three indicators made the greatest strides during the period from 1940 to 1980. This progress is probably related to state-led industrialisation, improvements in public health, and urbanisation. Comparison with US levels reveals that while average per capita income has generally remained steady, relative living standards (measured by a composite welfare index) have risen gradually as life expectancy in the two regions has converged.

JEL Codes: I31, N36

Keywords: Economic History, Welfare and Poverty, Demography, Education, Income and Wealth

Reference: 054

Individual View

Authors: Teresa da Silva Lopes

Feb 2004

This paper considers aspects of the evolution of ownership and control in global industries from 1960. The existing literature usually uses the largest firms in industrialized countries, to provide generalizations about national systems of corporate governance. In practice, this characterization is far from being comprehensive. For example, global industries which are not dominant in countries’ economies – such as alcoholic beverages – are overlooked. Including such overlooked cases, this study suggests that there is a broader range of combinations of ownership and control of firms than is usually considered. Regardless of national systems of corporate governance, family ownership may remain very important in some industries. Industry-specific factors, such as brands and marketing knowledge in alcoholic beverages, help explain why the predominant ownership and control structures of global firms are distinct from those that characterize their countries of origin.

Reference: 053

Individual View

Authors: Valpy Fitzgerald, Pablo Astorga, Ame R. Bergés

Dec 2003

Analysis of new comparable series on output and employment between 1900 and 2000 for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela indicates that productivity growth was significantly higher and less volatile during the middle decades of the century than in the opening and closing decades. The first estimate of total factor productivity (TFP) growth for Latin America during the twentieth century as a whole, derived from the residuals of a skill-augmented production function, indicates that unembodied technical progress was low and that the accumulation of fixed and human capital accounted for almost all recorded economic progress. Sectoral disaggregation suggests that this factor accumulation was associated with increased levels of capital per worker during industrialization on the one hand; and with both out-migration from agriculture and the lagged consequences of a demographic transition on the other. The relatively low rates of human and physical capital accumulation in Latin America remain to be explained, although these are more likely to be associated with inadequate public provision of infrastructure and education than with the cycle of protection and liberalization as such.

JEL Codes: O1, O4, N3, N5, N6

Keywords: Aggregate Productivity and Growth, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Total Factor Productivity, Human Capital

Reference: 052

Individual View

Authors: David R. Stead

Oct 2003

This article scrutinises the claim that the residual claimant in English agriculture was the fixed-rent tenant farmer rather than the landlord. Examination of methods of agricultural insurance and risk management indicates that the income risks of farming were sizeable, not straightforward to manage, and largely borne by the tenant. Thus the farmer’s profit appears to have fluctuated by more over time and space than did the rent paid to the landlord. Attempts are made to assess changes over time in the nature and size of the production and price risks that farmers were exposed to.

Reference: 051

Individual View

Authors: Robert Dryburgh

Mar 2003

Overseers’ vested interests played an important role in shaping local poor relief provision under the Old Poor Law. In the industrial town of Bolton the Relief Order books for the 1820s reveal an unusual emphasis upon the payment of paupers’ rent by the parish. This policy was partly a result of self-interest. Many members of the Relief Committee owned substantial quantities of residential property. Such rent payments ensured that these landlords received a subsidy from other ratepayers. A desire to preserve this type of relief, frowned upon by the 1834 Report, may be a contributory factor in the Board of Guardian’s later resistance to the Poor Law Amendment Act.

Reference: 050

Individual View

Authors: Alexandre Debs

Jan 2003

In the last decade, with the publication of his Complete Works, there has been renewed interest in Walras’s methodology, mostly in the French economic literature. In particular, some scholars have argued that Walras characteristically confused positive and normative statements, a mistake all the more surprising given his impressive knowledge of philosophy (the so-called ‘Walras paradox’). This paper reviews these recent studies and, in particular, it contests the solution to the Walras paradox offered by R. Koppl. For Koppl, the paradox is explained by the fact that Walras was influenced by philosophers who did not distinguish between positive and normative statements. More precisely, the French philosopher E. Vacherot inspired him to an idealist theory of knowledge, where preconceived notions of justice could be defended as truths. This paper contests such a conclusion: Vacherot’s theory of science was not idealist and did not sanction a confusion of positive and normative statements. The Walras paradox could even be non-existent after all.

Reference: 049

Individual View

Authors: Oliver Grant

Sep 2002

This paper presents new estimates of income inequality derived from Prussian tax statistics for the years 1822-1914. Confidence intervals are also calculated. The results show a rise in inequality in the nineteenth century, with a peak around 1906, thus supporting the view put forward by Simon Kuznets that industrialisation will initially lead to a rise in inequality. The paper goes on to consider whether this was due to factors which were particular to Germany in the period, or whether the Kuznets curve is the result of forces which affect all industrialising societies. The conclusion reached is that the Kuznets curve is an avoidable trap, not an automatic consequence of industrialisation.

Reference: 048

Individual View

This paper presents estimates of agricultural productivity (net value added per full-time labour unit) for 21 German regions for the years 1880/4, 1893/7 and 1905/9. The estimates are derived from regional accounts for agricultural production and costs. The methods used to draw up these accounts are discussed, and there is also an analysis of Hoffmann’s national agricultural accounts. The estimates show that productivity in East-Elbian agriculture was growing rapidly in the period, and tending to converge on the German average. Productivity in southern Germany was not growing so fast. The reasons for this improvement east of the Elbe are examined using a Kreis-level data set. This shows that yield improvements were not limited to large farms and estates, but that smaller holdings also had access to new technology and improved husbandry methods. In short, East-Elbian agriculture should not be seen as backward or bound by tradition: it was a modern sector capable of rapid improvements in techniques and methods of production.

Reference: 047

Individual View

Authors: Elaine Tan

Jun 2002

This paper proposes that one function of the open fields was to reduce the transaction costs of cow-keeping by lowering commoners costs of bulling. At enclosure, cow-keeping fell among small owners who, unlike large farmers, had difficulty obtaining bulling services and were not substantial enough to own both the bull and the cow; they were therefore worse off with enclosures. The minimum acreage required to restore cow keepers to their pre-enclosure economic position indicates that even commoners who were given some land at settlement lost out with the change in property rights.

Reference: 046

Individual View

Authors: Natalia Mora Sitja

May 2002

This paper examines labours organisation and labours reward in Catalonia before the first Industrial Revolution. Using new quantitative evidence on urban wages, it first shows that agricultural and urban real wages did not decrease during the last five decades of the pre-industrial period, despite increasing commodity prices. Secondly, it performs an econometric test that shows that wage responses reflected a condition of labour market integration, with occupational and spatial mobility. New data on the characteristics of immigration in Barcelona have been assembled to reinforce previous findings, and to provide new information on the push factors that inclined labourers to migrate. The papers aim is both to test issues long discussed in the literature on labour markets (taking Catalonia as the case study), and to provide new data that may help future research.

Reference: 045

Individual View

Authors: Avner Offer

Mar 2002

The public sector allocates 40 percent of expenditure in Britain. Why do affluent consumers acquire so much welfare outside the market? If choice is affected by myopic bias, optimisation is costly, consumer choice is fallible, and collective consumption provides a commitment device. For a century after 1870, collective investment gave superior payoffs, and collective consumption grew faster than the economy. Public/private standoffs were resolved against entrepreneurs. By the 1970s, prudential saturation set in, as public investment soared. Rising incomes, new goods, and falling prices shifted consumer preferences towards market provision, and crowded out the public sector. This shift supported investor capture of government, privatisation and de-regulation. Consumer expenditure increased, while prudential investment declined sharply. In consequence, Victorian-style public/private standoffs have emerged again, with prudential crises in pensions, education, health, communications, and transport. These will need to be resolved once again by means of political competition.

Reference: 044

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