Research in Economic History: Volume 25


Table of contents

(8 chapters)

Research in Economic History, Volume 25, includes six chapters covering a range of geographic areas and tackling a range of issues in economic history. The first two address United States topics, one analyzing data from the eighteenth and the other from the twentieth century. Both have a macroeconomic focus. Peter Mancall, Josh Rosenbloom, and Tom Weiss consider growth in colonial America, while Gary Richardson examines the role of bank failures in propagating the Great Depression.

Scholars have long emphasized that the Lower South was one of the most economically successful regions of British North America. The region had the highest levels of private wealth per capita in the colonies by 1774, and it has been argued that income per capita rose rapidly due to the rapid growth of rice exports. Here we present new and more comprehensive estimates of the region's exports, which reveal a different result. While exports grew rapidly, they grew slower than rice and indigo alone, and slower than population. Here we explain why the extensive growth of exports and population did not lead to rapid growth of income per capita.

During the contraction from 1929 to 1933, the Federal Reserve System tracked changes in the status of all banks operating in the United States and determined the cause of each bank suspension. This chapter introduces that hitherto dormant data and presents aggregate series constructed from it. The new data series will supplement, and in some cases, supplant the data currently used to study banking panics during the period, which were published by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1937.

The heights of lower- and upper-class English youth are compared to one another and to their European and North American counterparts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The height gap between the rich and poor was the greatest in England, reaching 22cm at age 16. The poverty-stricken English teenagers were among the shortest for their age so far discovered in Europe or North America; in contrast, the English rich were the tallest in the world in their time: only 2.5cm shorter than today's US standard. Height of the poor declined in the late 18th century, and again in the 1830s and 1840s conforming to the general European pattern, while the height of the wealthy tended rather to increase until the 1840s and then levelled off. The results support the pessimistic view of the course of living standards among the ultra-poor in the Industrial Revolution period.

We construct yearly fiscal series for Sweden between 1719 and 2003 including expenditures, revenues, deficits and debt. We present measures for the fiscal branch of the central government as well as for the consolidated fiscal and monetary branch, which includes fiscal seigniorage. We evaluate the reliability and consistency of the series by calculating the difference between budget deficits and the change in debt to test if the differences are serially uncorrelated around zero, which we confirm.

Early twentieth century transatlantic migration was both a massive transoceanic population transfer and a complex travel business. The successful growth of this multinational commerce was based not on fare reductions, but on risk management strategies. Shipping lines provided costly carrying capacity sufficient to accommodate severely fluctuating demand for transatlantic migration, and did so in a manner which improved the reliability and quality of travel for migrants.

This chapter uses new data sets to analyze labor market integration between 1882 and 1936 in an area of Asia stretching from South India to Southeastern China and encompassing the three Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Malaya, and Thailand. We find that by the late nineteenth century, globalization, of which a principal feature was the mass migration of Indians and Chinese to Southeast Asia, gave rise to both an integrated Asian labor market and a period of real wage convergence. Integration did not, however, extend beyond Asia to include core industrial countries. Asian and core areas, in contrast to globally integrated commodity markets, showed divergent trends in unskilled real wages.

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Research in Economic History
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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