Kevin Lewis

August 03, 2020

Transportation and Health in the Antebellum United States, 1820-1847
Ariell Zimran
Journal of Economic History, forthcoming


I study the impact of transportation on health in the rural United States, 1820-1847. Measuring health by average stature, I find that greater transportation linkage, as measured by market access, in a cohort’s county-year of birth had an adverse impact on its health. A one-standard-deviation increase in market access reduced average stature by 0.14 inches, and rising market access over the study period can explain 37 percent of the contemporaneous decline in average stature, known as the Antebellum Puzzle. I find evidence that transportation affected health by increasing population density, leading to a worse epidemiological environment.

Malthus's Missing Women and Children: Demography and wages in historical perspective, England 1280-1850
Sara Horrell, Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf
European Economic Review, forthcoming


Malthus believed that rising real wages encouraged earlier marriage, higher fertility and a growing population. But diminishing returns in agriculture meant that an organic economy could not keep pace. Excess labour and rising food prices drove wages down and brought population growth to a halt. Studies testing this hypothesis have focused on the relationship between population growth and men's wages, typically overlooking women and children's economic activities and influence on demographic outcomes. New daily and annual wage series, including women and children, enable these missing actors to be incorporated into a more complete account of Malthus's hypothesis. New findings emerge: the demographic reaction to wage changes was gendered. Early-modern bachelors responded to rising male wages by marrying earlier, whereas spinsters responded to rising female wages by delaying marriage. Our evidence suggests that women played a key role in England's low-fertility demographic regime and escape from the Malthusian trap. More tentatively, we consider the demographic regime in medieval England. Although marriage was related to earnings, the size of the population was a forceful determinant of economic outcomes. While superficially similar in terms of the prevalence of late marriage and low nuptiality, this regime was consolidated by poverty and social control absent the female agency of the later era.

The Societal Consequences of Higher Education
Evan Schofer, Francisco Ramirez & John Meyer
Sociology of Education, forthcoming


The advent of mass schooling played a pivotal role in European societies of the later nineteenth century, transforming rural peasants into national citizens. The late-twentieth-century global expansion of higher education ushered in new transformations, propelling societal rationalization and organizing, and knitting the world into a more integrated society and economy. We address four key dynamics: (1) Higher education sustains the modern professions and contributes to the rationalization of society and state. (2) The supranational and universalistic orientation of higher education provides elites with shared global cultural frames and identities, facilitating globalization. (3) Consequently, tertiary education provides a foundation for major global movements and sociopolitical change around diverse issues, such as human rights and environmental protection as well as potentially contentious religious and cultural solidarities. (4) Higher education contributes to the reorganization of the economy, creating new monetarized activities and facilitating the reconceptualization of activities distant from material production as economic. In short, many features of the contemporary world arise from the growing legions of people steeped in common forms of higher education. Panel regression models of contemporary cross-national longitudinal data examine these relationships. We find higher-education enrollments are associated with key dimensions of rationalization, globalization, societal mobilization, and expansion of the service economy. Central features of modern society, often seen as natural, in fact hinge on the distinctive form of higher education that has become institutionalized worldwide.

Cultural distance and economic divergence over time
Vincenzo Bove & Gunes Gokmen
Economics Letters, forthcoming


Instead of featuring a long-awaited convergence process, the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic income divergence across countries. We propose cultural distance between countries as a determinant of this economic divergence. Cultural similarity makes it easier for societies to interact, learn and adopt from one another. Consequently, cultural differences may lead to economic divergence over time as they slow down the adoption of technological and institutional innovations from the frontier countries. We show that the overall economic divergence observed in the world since the 1950s is driven by countries with high relative cultural distance to the technological frontier. In contrast, the income gap among countries with low relative cultural distance remained unchanged over time. Further analysis reveals that a one-unit rise in relative cultural distance to the frontier is associated with an increased income divergence of almost seven units.

Historical Origins of Firm Ownership Structure: The Persistent Effects of the African Slave Trade
Lamar Pierce & Jason Snyder
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


This paper uses evidence from the historical African slave trade to extend prior theory linking modern firm ownership structure to institutions and social capital. We argue that institutions and social capital are not simply predictors of ownership structure, but also can be historically persistent mechanisms through which past traumatic shocks to society shape modern businesses. Using data from over 30,000 firms across 41 sub-Saharan countries, we show that firms in areas that suffered high historical slave extraction are today more likely to have concentrated ownership. High slave export countries have more sole proprietorships and majority ownership, with our model implying a difference of 43 percentage points between the lowest and highest export countries. This difference is particularly pronounced in the manufacturing sector where high capital needs can necessitate diffuse ownership when credit markets are weak. Finally, we present modest evidence that weakened institutions and social capital are among the mechanisms through which the historical slave trade increases modern ownership concentration. Our paper answers recent calls to bring both Africa and history back into management research through our theoretical extension into distinct and quantifiable historical origins of firm structure.

Does Compulsory Schooling Affect Innovation? Evidence from the United States
Corey DeAngelis & Angela Dills
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: We use difference‐in‐difference and event study methods to estimate the effects of these laws.

Results: Our results suggest that the adoption of compulsory schooling in the United States reduced patents per capita and output per worker over time.

Shadow Of The Great Firewall: The Impact Of Google Blockade On Innovation In China
Yanfeng Zheng & Qinyu (Ryan) Wang
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming


Building on the search‐based view of innovation, we develop a framework regarding how Google guides innovative search behavior. We exploit an exogenous shock, China's unexpected blockade of Google in 2014, and adopt a difference‐in‐differences approach with a matched sample of patents from China and nearby regions to test our predictions. Our analyses show that the blockade negatively affected inventors in China to search distantly in technological and cognitive spaces compared to those in the control group who were presumably unaffected by the event. The impact was less severe for inventors with larger collaboration networks but became more pronounced in technological fields proximate to science. Our findings contribute to innovative search literature and highlight the theoretical and practical importance of Internet technologies in developing valuable inventions.

Ethnolinguistic diversity and urban agglomeration
Ulrich Eberle et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 July 2020, Pages 16250-16257


This article shows that higher ethnolinguistic diversity is associated with a greater risk of social tensions and conflict, which, in turn, is a dispersion force lowering urbanization and the incentives to move to big cities. We construct a worldwide dataset at a fine-grained level on urban settlement patterns and ethnolinguistic population composition. For 3,540 provinces of 170 countries, we find that increased ethnolinguistic fractionalization and polarization are associated with lower urbanization and an increased role for secondary cities relative to the primate city of a province. These striking associations are quantitatively important and robust to various changes in variables and specifications. We find that democratic institutions affect the impact of ethnolinguistic diversity on urbanization patterns.

Technological Change and Inequality in the Very Long Run
Jakob Madsen & Holger Strulik
European Economic Review, forthcoming


In this paper we investigate the impact of technological change on inequality in the presence of a landed elite using a standard unified growth model. We measure inequality by the ratio between land rent and wages and show that, before the onset of the fertility transition, technological progress increased inequality directly through land-biased technological change and indirectly through increasing population growth. The fertility transition and the child quantity-quality trade-off eventually disabled the Malthusian mechanism, and technological progress triggered education and benefited workers. If the elasticity of substitution between land and labor is sufficiently high, the rent-wage ratio declines such that inequality is hump-shaped in the very long run. We use the publication of new farming book titles as a measure of technological progress in agriculture, and provide evidence for technology-driven inequality in Britain between 1525 and 1895. We confirm these results for a panel of European countries over the period 1265-1850 using agricultural productivity as a measure of technology. Finally, using patents in the period 1800-1980, we find a technology-driven inequality reversal around the onset of the fertility transition.

The pox in Boswell's London: An estimate of the extent of syphilis infection in the metropolis in the 1770s
Simon Szreter & Kevin Siena
Economic History Review, forthcoming


This article provides for the first time a robust quantitative estimate of the amount of syphilis infection in the population of London in the later eighteenth century. A measure of the cumulative incidence of having ever been treated for the pox by the age of 35 is constructed, providing an indicator of over 20 per cent syphilitic infection. The principal primary sources are hospital admissions registers, augmented with an analysis of London's workhouse infirmaries. A range of potentially confounding factors are taken into account, including the contemporary conflation between syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, patients who shunned hospitals in favour of private treatment, possible double‐counting of patients, institutional patients who may have hailed from outside London, and the complexity of establishing what should constitute the ‘at‐risk’ population of London for this period. Cultural and medical historians have demonstrated considerable pre‐occupation with venereal disease in the texts of the eighteenth century, while demographic and epidemiological historians, lacking any quantitative evidence, have tended to ignore the disease. This article can now demonstrate for the first time just how extensive syphilis was likely to have been and, by doing so, offer an original contribution to major debates in the history of sexuality and the demography of early modern London.

Infant and child mortality by socio‐economic status in early nineteenth‐century England
Hannaliis Jaadla et al.
Economic History Review, forthcoming


Historical relationships between socio‐economic status and mortality remain poorly understood. This is particularly the case in England, due to a lack of status indicators in available sources especially before c . 1850. This study uses the paternal occupational descriptors routinely recorded in Anglican baptism registers from 1813-37 to compare infant and early childhood mortality by social status. The sample consists of eight of the Cambridge Group family reconstitution parishes, which make it possible to investigate the contributions of environment as well as household characteristics. The main variable of interest was an individual‐level continuous measure of wealth based on ranking paternal occupations by the propensity for their movable wealth to be inventoried upon death. The findings show that wealth conferred no clear survival advantage in infancy, once differences in average mortality levels between parishes were adjusted for. However, wealth was associated with higher survival rates in early childhood, especially in the second year of life, and this pattern persisted after adjustment for parish‐level effects. The striking exception to this pattern was labourers, who were among the poorest of fathers but whose children enjoyed relatively low mortality. Thus socio‐economic differentials in mortality were present in early nineteenth‐century England; however, they were small, age‐specific, and non‐linear.

Pre-Colonial Warfare and Long-Run Development in India
Mark Dincecco et al.
University of Michigan Working Paper, June 2020


We analyze the relationship between pre-colonial warfare and long-run development patterns in India. We construct a new geocoded database of historical interstate conflicts on the Indian subcontinent, from which we compute measures of local exposure to pre-colonial warfare. We document a positive and significant relationship between pre-colonial conflict exposure and local economic development across India today. This result is robust to numerous checks, including controls for geographic endowments, initial state capacity, colonial-era institutions, ethnic and religious fractionalization, and colonial and post-colonial conflict, and an instrumental variables strategy that exploits variation in pre-colonial conflict exposure driven by cost distance to the Khyber Pass. Drawing on rich archival and secondary data, we show that districts that were more exposed to pre-colonial conflict experienced greater local pre-colonial and colonial-era state-making, and less political violence and higher infrastructure investments in the long term. We argue that reductions in local levels of violence and greater investments in physical capital were at least in part a function of more powerful local government institutions.

Early state institutions and the persistence of linguistic diversity
James Ang
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


The persistence of diversity is often associated with various negative economic outcomes, and yet the causes of its wide disparity throughout the world are not well understood. This paper hypothesizes the persistence of linguistic diversity (measured as the survival rate of indigenous languages) can be explained by the length of statehood experience. Using data for up to 133 countries, the results suggest that countries which have experienced a long history of pre-colonial statehood tend to have a lower degree of persistence of linguistic diversity today. This finding, therefore, provides some support to the view that a more established state has a greater capacity to reduce inter-group differences, thus contributing to less persistent linguistic diversity within a country.

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