Research in Economic History: Volume 28


Table of contents

(11 chapters)

This is the first volume of Research in Economic History edited by Christopher Hanes and Susan Wolcott, who act as coeditors. We continue the policies adopted by our predecessors. Research in Economic History is a refereed journal, specializing in economic history, in the form of a book. As a refereed journal, we do not publish opinion, speculation, rumination, or reviews: we publish information, new and true (well, as true as most articles in economics journals), for scholars. But as a book, we can accommodate work that does not fit the standard journal mold.

This paper explores whether the spread of air conditioning in the United States from 1960 to 1990 affected quality of life in warmer areas enough to influence decisions about where to live, or to change North-South wage and rent differentials. Using measures designed to identify climates in which air conditioning would have made the biggest difference, I found little evidence that the flow of elderly migrants to MSAs with such climates increased over the period. Following Roback (1982), I analyzed data on MSA wages, rents, and climates from 1960 to 1990, and find that the implicit price of these hot summer climates did not change significantly from 1960 to 1980, then became significantly negative in 1990. This contrary to what one would expect if air conditioning made hot summers more bearable. I presented evidence that hot summers are an inferior good, which would explain part of the negative movement in the implicit price of a hot summer, and evidence consistent with the hypothesis that the marginal person migrating from colder to hotter MSAs dislikes summer heat more than does the average resident of a hot MSA, which would also exert downward pressure on the implicit price of a hot summer.

This paper presents the first annual estimates for the rail-guided vehicles industry in post-Unification Italy. Nationally, maintenance was naturally trend-dominated, while new construction followed a Kuznets cycle; overall, maintenance exceeded new construction, while freight cars represented the largest component of the latter. The limited production of locomotives over the initial decades seems tied to high raw material costs rather than to technical inadequacy. Regionally, new construction was concentrated in the industrial triangle, and in Campania; maintenance was more widely diffused, as repair work tended to follow local traffic, but it too was largely absent from the swath of mostly Southern regions without major urban centers.

The English banking system before the Panic of 1825, apart from the Bank of England, which maintained a monopoly of joint-stock banking, was one of private partnerships both in London and in the provinces, most of which were independent unit banks. Since remittance was the principal function of country banks at this time close ties in the form of correspondent relations developed between country banks and London agents, similar to the structure prevailing in the United States later in the nineteenth century between New York and interior banks. Although efficient in the transfer of funds across space, these networks also proved to be quite efficient in the transmission of financial pressures during panics.

Soon after beginning operations, the Federal Reserve established a nationwide network for collecting information about the economy. In 1919, the Fed began tabulating data by about retail sales, which it viewed as a fundamental measure of consumption. From 1920 until 1929, the Federal Reserve published data about retail sales each month by Federal Reserve district, but ceased to do so after 1929. It continued to compile monthly data on retail sales by reserve district, but this data remained in house. We collected these in-house reports from the archives of the Board of Governors and constructed a consistent series on retail trade at the district level. The new series enhances our understanding of economic trends during the Roaring ‘20s and Great Depression.

This paper explores the origins of the great fortunes of the Gilded Age. It relies on two lists of millionaires published in 1892 and 1902, similar to the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans. Manufacturing, as might be expected, was the most important source of Gilded Age fortunes. Many of the millionaires, moreover, won their fortunes by exploiting the latest technology: Alfred D. Chandler's “continuous-flow production.” A more surprising finding is that wholesale and retail trade, real estate, and finance together produced more millionaires than manufacturing. Real estate and finance, moreover, were by far the most important secondary and tertiary sources of Gilded Age fortunes: entrepreneurs started in many sectors, but then expanded their fortunes mainly through investments in real estate and financial assets. Inheritance was also important, especially in older regions. The observations, moreover, come before and after the Crisis of 1893, one of the most severe financial crises of the nineteenth century. The data reveal a high degree of survival among the great fortunes, and perhaps most surprising, a high degree of survival for fortunes based on real estate.

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Research in Economic History
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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