Economic history

Knowledge elites, enlightenment, and industrialisation

Nico Voigtländer, Mara Squicciarini, 13 July 2014

Although studies of contemporary economies find robust associations between human capital and growth, past research has found no link between worker skills and the onset of industrialisation. This column resolves the puzzle by focusing on the upper tail of the skill distribution, which is strongly associated with industrial development in 18th-century France.

External integration and development: Evidence from Argentina

Pablo Fajgelbaum, Stephen Redding, 12 July 2014

External integration is often viewed as an important driver of economic development, but most existing studies use aggregate data. This column present evidence from a natural experiment provided by Argentina’s integration into the world markets in the late 19th century. The findings point that proximity to trade centres is associated with employment density, high lands rates relative to wages, and structural transformation away from agriculture.

How history can contribute to better economic education

Coen Teulings, 11 July 2014

The financial crisis and the Great Recession have led to calls for more economic history in economic education. This column argues for a much broader use of history in economics courses, as a device for teaching both the logic and the empirical relevance of economics. A proposed curriculum would include the rise of agriculture, urbanisation, war, the rule of law, and demography.

Trade, regional development, and institutions: Lessons from Brazil

André Carlos Martínez, Aldo Musacchio, Martina Viarengo, 9 July 2014

Institutions are known to play a powerful and enduring role in countries’ divergent levels of economic development. This column presents evidence that institutions matter for within-country inequality, too. In Brazil, changes in export prices and export tax revenues led to an increase in education spending in states that experienced commodity booms, which increased the number of schools and improved educational outcomes such as literacy rates. However, the effect was limited in states where slavery was predominant in colonial times.

Financial preparations leading up to WWI

Harold James, 9 July 2014

The 1907 panic affected the world, demonstrating the fragility of the international financial system. This column discusses the steps the US and Germany took in fortifying their financial systems following 1907. There is a link between the financial crisis and the escalation of diplomatic relations that led to war in 1914. And this link has implications for today as the world is recovering from the 2008 crisis.

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