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Economic History

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Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

This highly original book -- the first in a series analyzing historical population behavior in Europe and Asia -- pioneers a new approach to the comparative analysis of societies in the past. Using techniques of event history analysis, the authors examine 100,000 life histories in 100 rural communities in Western Europe and Asia to analyze the demographic response to social and economic pressures. In doing so they challenge the accepted Eurocentric Malthusian view of population processes and demonstrate that population behavior has not been as uniform as previously thought -- that it has often been determined by human agency, particularly social structure and cultural practice.The authors examine the complex relationship between human behavior and social and economic environment, analyzing age, gender, family, kinship, social class and social organization, climate, food prices, and real wages to compare mortality responses to adversity. Their research at the individual, household, and community levels challenges the previously accepted characterizations of social and economic behavior in Europe and Asia in the past. The originality of the analysis as well as the geographic breadth and historical depth of the data make Life Under Pressure a significant advance in the field of historical demography. Its findings will be of interest to scholars in economics, environmental studies, demography, history, and sociology as well as the general reader interested in these subjects.

This startlingly original (and sure to be controversial) account of the evolution of Christianity shows that the economics of religion has little to do with counting the money in the collection basket and much to do with understanding the background of today's religious and political divisions. Since religion is a set of organized beliefs, and a church is an organized body of worshippers, it's natural to use a science that seeks to explain the behavior of organizations--economics--to understand the development of organized religion. The Marketplace of Christianity applies the tools of economic theory to illuminate the emergence of Protestantism in the sixteenth century and to examine contemporary religion-influenced issues, including evolution and gay marriage.The Protestant Reformation, the authors argue, can be seen as a successful penetration of a religious market dominated by a monopoly firm--the Catholic Church. The Ninety-five Theses nailed to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther raised the level of competition within Christianity to a breaking point. The Counter-Reformation, the Catholic reaction, continued the competitive process, which came to include "product differentiation" in the form of doctrinal and organizational innovation. Economic theory shows us how Christianity evolved to satisfy the changing demands of consumers--worshippers.The authors of The Marketplace of Christianity avoid value judgments about religion. They take preferences for religion as given and analyze its observable effects on society and the individual. They provide the reader with clear and nontechnical background information on economics and the economics of religion before focusing on the Reformation and its aftermath. Their analysis of contemporary hot-button issues--science vs. religion, liberal vs. conservative, clerical celibacy, women and gay clergy, gay marriage--offers a vivid illustration of the potential of economic analysis to contribute to our understanding of religion.

Irregular Memoirs of an Intellectual Journey

János Kornai, a distinguished Hungarian economist, began his adult life as an ardent believer in socialism and then became a critic of the communist political and economic system. He lost family members in the Holocaust, contributed to the ideological preparation for the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and became an influential theorist of the post-Soviet economic transition. He has been a journalist, a researcher prohibited from teaching in his home country, and a tenured professor at Harvard. By Force of Thought traces Kornai's lifelong intellectual journey and offers a subjective complement to his academic research.Disenchanted with communism, Kornai published Overcentralization (1956), the first book written by someone living behind the Iron Curtain to be openly critical of Soviet-style economics. Although it was attacked in Hungary, it was hailed by Western economists. The Kornai-Lipták theory on two-level planning captured the attention of mathematical economists. Kornai went on to publish the controversial Anti-Equilibrium (1971), a critique of the general equilibrium theory underpinning mainstream economic analyses of markets, Economics of Shortage (1980), The Road to a Free Economy (1990), and the summary of his lifetime research, The Socialist System (1992). An intellectual emissary between East and West, Kornai commuted between Harvard and Budapest for many years.Kornai's memoir describes his research--including his present-day evaluation of his past work--as well as the social and political environments in which he did his work. The difficulties faced by a critic of central planning in a communist country are made especially vivid by material from newly opened secret police files and informers' reports on his activities. By Force of Thought will be an essential resource for students of economic thought, socialist systems, and postsocialist transition, and for readers interested in Eastern European intellectual life before, during, and after communism.

Currency boards, more so than other exchange rate regimes, have come in and out of fashion. Defined by a fixed exchange rate with full convertibility, central bank liabilities backed with foreign exchange reserves, and a high cost of exiting the regime, currency boards were common in colonial times--until most were cast off as countries gained independence after World War II. In the 1990s, currency boards enjoyed a revival as the cornerstone of various macroeconomic stabilization programs--including many in central and eastern European transition economies--only to fall into disfavor again with the collapse of the Argentine regime in 2002. The authors of Currency Boards in Retrospect and Prospect take a balanced look at the effects of currency board regimes on inflation, output growth, and macroeconomic performance more generally. Drawing on historical experience, economic theory, cross-country empirical analysis, and case studies of currency boards in Argentina, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the authors conclude that currency boards deliver significant reductions in inflation compared to other regimes and do not seem to result in slower growth or a markedly higher vulnerability to crisis. Holger C. Wolf is Associate Professor at the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University. Atish R. Ghosh is Chief of the Policy Review Division of the Policy Development and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund. Helge Berger is Professor and Chair of Monetary Economics at Free University Berlin and coeditor of Managing EU Enlargement (MIT Press, 2004). Anne-Marie Gulde is Assistant Director of the Policy Wing of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund. Ghosh, Gulde, and Wolf are the authors of Exchange Rate Regimes: Choice and Consequences (MIT Press, 2003).

Two Centuries of Policy and Performance

World mass migration began in the early nineteenth century, when advances in transportation technology and industrial revolutions at home enabled increasing numbers of people to set off for other parts of the globe in search of a better life. Two centuries later, there is no distant African, Asian, or Latin American village that is not within reach of some high-wage OECD labor market. This book is the first comprehensive economic assessment of world mass migration taking a long-run historical perspective, including north-north, south-south, and south-north migrations. Timothy Hatton and Jeffrey Williamson, both economists and economic historians, consider two centuries of global mobility, assessing its impact on the migrants themselves as well as on the sending and receiving countries.

Global Migration and the World Economy covers two great migration waves: the first, from the 1820s to the beginning of World War I, when immigration was largely unrestricted; the second, beginning in 1950, when mass migration continued to grow despite policy restrictions. The book also explores the period between these two global centuries when world migration shrank sharply because of two world wars, immigration quotas, and the Great Depression. The authors assess the economic performance of these world migrations, the policy reactions to deal with them, and the political economy that connected one with the other. The last third of Global Migration and the World Economy focuses on modern experience and shows how contemporary debates about migration performance and policy can be informed by a comprehensive historical perspective.

Essays in Honor of Jeffrey G. Williamson

The innovative approach to economic history known as the New Comparative Economic History represents a distinct change in the way that many economic historians view their role, do their work, and interact with the broader economics profession. The New Comparative Economic History reflects a belief that economic processes can best be understood by systematically comparing experiences across time, regions, and, above all, countries. It is motivated by current questions that are not nation specific--the sources of economic growth, the importance of institutions, and the impact of globalization--and focuses on long-run trends rather than short-run ups and downs in economic activity. The essays in this volume offer a New Economic Comparative History perspective on a range of topics and are written in honor of Jeffrey G. Williamson, the most distinguished and influential scholar in the field.The contributors, prominent American and European economists, consider such topics as migration, education, and wage convergence; democracy and protectionism in the nineteenth century; trade and immigration policies in labor-scarce economies; and the effect of institutions on European productivity and jobs.

Interests, Ideas, and Institutions in Historical Perspective

The repeal of Britain's Corn Laws in 1846--one of the most important economic policy decisions of the nineteenth century--has long intrigued and puzzled political scientists, historians, and economists. Why would a Conservative prime minister act against his own party's interests? The Conservatives entered government in 1841 with a strong commitment to protecting agriculture; five years later, the Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel presided over repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws, violating party principles and undercutting the economic interests of the land-owning aristocracy. Only a third of Conservative members of Parliament supported the repeal legislation and within a month of repeal, Peel's government fell. The Conservatives remained out of power for decades. In this definitive book, Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey examines the interacting forces that brought about the abrupt beginning of Britain's free-trade empire.Using a wide variety of methodological tools to measure both qualitative and quantitative data (including computer-assisted content analysis of thousands of pages of parliamentary debates), Schonhardt-Bailey concludes that economic interests provided the momentum behind repeal, a momentum that overshadowed almost all else. Indeed, as part of a broader momentum of democratic reform, these same interests, left unsatisfied, may easily have snowballed into revolution--as Sir Robert Peel and others feared. But interests alone did not explain why reform rather than revolution emerged in mid-nineteenth century Britain. In order to resolve more fully the long-standing puzzle of repeal, Schonhardt-Bailey traces the overlapping and intertwined forces of interest, ideas, and institutions.

Eli Heckscher (1879-1952) is celebrated for his contributions to international trade theory, particularly the factor proportions theory of comparative advantage in international trade known as the Heckscher-Ohlin theory. His work in both economic theory and economic history is notable for combining theoretical insights with a profound knowledge of economic history and the history of economic thought. In this volume, leading international economists assess the importance of Heckscher's work and its relevance to the contemporary practice of economic history.The contributors first discuss Heckscher's efforts to forge the discipline of economic history by combining both the historian's careful evaluation of sources and the economist's rigorous models. The Heckscher-Ohlin theory of factor proportions is described and tested empirically. Contributors then apply the theory to historical material, including Mediterranean trade in Biblical times, the economic effects of two periods of plague eight centuries apart, and tariff policy in 35 countries from 1870 to 1938. Heckscher's masterly work on mercantilism, the Continental Blockade, and Swedish economic history is also described and appraised in light of recent historical research.Contributors:Benny Carlson, François Crouzet, Lance E. Davis, Stanley L. Engerman, Ronald Findlay, Harry Flam, Rolf G. H. Henriksson, Eva, Einar, Ivar, and Sten Heckscher, Douglas A. Irwin, Ronald W. Jones, Deepak Lal, Håkan Lindgren, Mats Lundahl, Lars Magnusson, Joel Mokyr, Mats Morell, Patrick O'Brien, Kevin H. O'Rourke, Bo Sandelin, Lennart Schön, Johan Söderberg, Peter Temin, Jeffrey G. Williamson

The Road to the Future

In this book Takeo Hoshi and Anil Kashyap examine the history of the Japanese financial system, from its nineteenth-century beginnings through the collapse of the 1990s that concluded with sweeping reforms. Combining financial theory with new data and original case studies, they show why the Japanese financial system developed as it did and how its history affects its ongoing evolution.

The authors describe four major periods within Japan's financial history and speculate on the fifth, into which Japan is now moving. Throughout, they focus on four questions: How do households hold their savings? How is business financing provided? What range of services do banks provide? And what is the nature and extent of bank involvement in the management of firms? The answers provide a framework for analyzing the history of the past 150 years, as well as implications of the just-completed reforms known as the "Japanese Big Bang."

Hoshi and Kashyap show that the largely successful era of bank dominance in postwar Japan is over, largely because deregulation has exposed the banks to competition from capital markets and foreign competitors. The banks are destined to shrink as households change their savings patterns and their customers continue to migrate to new funding sources. Securities markets are set to re-emerge as central to corporate finance and governance.

A Retrospective

Charles P. Kindleberger's rich and distinguised career has spanned nearly six decades. The essays collected here reflect the author's shift in interests from foreign exchange to international trade, economic growth, and economic history, especially financial history. They also contain dollops of sociology and political science. Kindleberger views himself as a historical economist who tests economic propositions against the historical record in more than one setting. The collection contains many of the jewels of Kindleberger's work. Most of the papers are strong on comparison (within Western Europe and between Europe and the United States), on economic or financial history, and on social science beyond the confines of economics.

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