December 28, 2008
Kim Sukkoo  “Division of labor and the rise of cities: evidence from US industrialization, 1850-1880”, Journal of Economic Geography, 6/3, 469-491.
“In the USA, the Industrial Revolution occurred in two distinct phases between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Between 1820 and 1840, early industrialization began in New England as manufacturing re-organized from artisanal shops to non-mechanized factories in a relatively small number of industries such as textile, leather, and shoes. In the second phase of industrialisation, which occurred between 1850 and 1920, factory production rose in scale, became mechanized, and spread to numerous industries and to the North-eastern region known as the manufacturing belt” (p.469). Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2008
Grantham George (1999) “Contra Ricardo: On the macroeconomics of pre-industrial economies”, European Review of Economic History, 2/2, 199-232.
The Classical Approach (Ricardian trap): “The narrative line of [European] history is driven by a sequence of exogenous productivity and mortality shocks that worked themselves out in time through the feedbacks between living standards and population density, in which periods of growth were succeeded by periods of contraction induced” by declining labour productivity.”
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August 10, 2008
O’Rourke Kevin H. and Williamson Jeffrey G. (2006) “Did Vasco da Gama matter for European markets? Testing Frederick Lanes hypotheses fifty years later”, IIIS Discussion Paper, 118, 53p.
This paper is available on line.
Summary: In this article, the authors argue against F. C. Lanes’ traditional thesis which considered that the Portuguese discoveries had little long-lasting effect on the European spices markets. They show that the Portuguese route did decrease the spices prices in 16th-century Europe. Moreover they contributed to the creation of an integrated European market for luxury goods that did not exist before 1500. They conclude by saying that the European consumers were ultimately the main beneficiaries ofda Gama’s voyage. Read the rest of this entry »
April 20, 2008
Arbellot Guy (1973) “La grande mutation des routes de France au XVIIIe siècle”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 28/3. 765-791.
This article is available on line.
When Louis XIV died (1715), the roads of the kingdom he was leaving to his successor were in a dreadful state. This was a major bottleneck for the growing economic and administrative activities. The controleur général (finance secretary) Orry and the intendant Trudaine decided to repair the old roads and build new ones where carts and coaches could travel fast. Read the rest of this entry »
April 6, 2008
Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The late medieval crisis as “integration crisis’” in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, 38-72.
The post-war historians thought ‘traditional societies’ did not experienced growth in per caput income due to the lack of technological innovation. But recent research has shown they could be much more productive then formerly thought, so pre-modern societies operated well below their potential: technology was not a fundamental constraint. In agriculture, only a handful of regions were reaching their technological frontier: Essex, Flanders, Lombardy, etc. Elsewhere, the bulk of the medieval innovations was still to be introduced (38). Commercial progress also allowed specialisation to take place, but warfare regularly reversed these improvements (39). Read the rest of this entry »
February 24, 2008
KELLY Morgan (1997) “The Dynamics of Smithian Growth”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112/3, 939-964.
Smithian progress (i.e. the understanding that specialization causes output to rise first articulated by Adam Smith) is neglected by economists because it is perceived as gradual (unlike the sudden growth caused by innovation, learning by doing and private capital accumulation). But the author dismisses the idea that Smithian growth is necessarily gradual. Read the rest of this entry »
January 27, 2008
Britnell Richard H. (2001) “Specialization of work in England, 1100-1300”, Economic History Review, 54/1, 1-16.
The 12th and 13th centuries experienced growing population. The more people, the more likely it is that some will become specialized in an activity where they enjoy a comparative advantage (see Adam Smith). Persson has estimated that this led to a 0.1 to 0.25 yearly increase of productivity per caput in England over two centuries (i.e. between 22 and 62% for the whole period). But to what extend the period’s productivity gains are attributable to specialization? Read the rest of this entry »
October 21, 2007
Nakamura J. I. (1981) “Human Capital Accumulation in Premodern Rural Japan”, The Journal of Economic History, 41/2, 263-281.
Human capital has not always been recognized as a crucial source of historical change. Capital accumulation and technology have often been seen as more important. The development of post-WWII Japan has reminded to all that physical factors were not the only source of growth. A rather similar story happened under Meiji. The impressive and unexpected economic development of the post-1868 period was rooted in the accumulation of human resources under the Tokugawas (264). The market economy introduced by Meiji was to be the base of Japan’s economic strength, but it could not have developed so fast without the structural and cultural foundations set up under the Tokugawa and earlier. “Human capital may be broadly identified as labour skills, managerial skills, and entrepreneurial and innovative abilities – plus such physical attributes as health and strength”. Read the rest of this entry »