American economic development in historical perspective /
edited by Thomas Weiss and Donald Schaefer.
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1994.
xiv, 321 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0804720843 (acid-free paper) :
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Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1994.
0804720843 (acid-free paper) :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [257]-313) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1994-06:
Penned primarily by economic historians (including 1993 Nobel Laureates Robert Fogel and Douglass North) in honor of their colleague Robert Gallman (Kenan Professor of Economics and History, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), this edited volume of 12 essays examines various aspects of American economic development focusing on the 19th century. A number of the authors were Gallman's students; others, his collaborators on various projects; and one, Matthew Gallman, is his son. All have contributed serious, original essays which, though not forming a unified and coherent whole, are nonetheless well organized around three broad themes: measurement and economic growth, institutions and institutional change, and the political economy of change. The essays are of high quality--much higher than usual in books of this genre. Many (e.g., Schaefer's essay on migration and the Davis, Gallman, and Hutchins essay on whaling) are quantitative (but not overly technical). Some provide important data such as the bond and stock prices and interest rate series from 1790 to 1989 (Sylla, Wilson and Jones). Others, such as Weiss's essay revising pre-1860 growth rates, make important revisions in the conventional wisdom. All, however, are first rate--for the specialist and serious student. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty. J. Atack; Vanderbilt University
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Choice, June 1994
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Main Description
This collection of twelve essays is based on the premise that a better understanding of the economic development process can be gained by studying the history of those countries that have experienced long-term economic success, in this case the United States during the nineteenth century - that period of U.S. history most pertinent to less developed countries. Two of its contributors, Robert W. Fogel and Douglass North, received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Economics. The essays explore in great detail how the U.S. economy persisted on its upward trajectory in spite of perilous times and events and occasional political crises. They show how complex the experience was, how fluid and fragile the process can be. While the specifics of the American case will not be found everywhere, the complexity and fragility are common to all developing countries. The book is in three parts. The first set of essays deals with the meaning and measurement of economic growth and development: economic growth during the antebellum period; the long-term behavior of such financial variables as stock and bond yields and the savings rate; immigration to the United States during the 1850's; and the juxtaposition of economic history and development. The second group of essays examines the influence of institutional changes on American economic growth: the importance of ideas, ideologies, and institutions in sustaining growth; seasonality in labor markets; risk sharing, crew quality, labor shares, and wages in the whaling industry; and capital formation in midwest farms and industries. The essays of the third section analyze events in the political economy of U.S. development: the role of economic issues in the political realignment that led to the election of Abraham Lincoln; the effect of the Civil War on the economic fortunes of Philadelphia's entrepreneurs; the effect of the silver movement on price stability; and the growth and triumph of oligopoly
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Economic Growth Before 1860: Revised Conjecturesp. 11
U.S. Financial Markets and Long-Term Economic Growth, 1790-1989p. 28
U.S. Migration, 1850-59p. 53
Economic History and Economic Development: An American Perspectivep. 70
Institutional Change in American Economic Historyp. 87
Seasonality in Nineteenth-Century Labor Marketsp. 99
Risk Sharing, Crew Quality, Labor Shares, and Wages in the Nineteenth-Century American Whaling Industryp. 127
The Finance of Capital Formation in Midwestern Development, 1800-1910p. 168
Toward a New Synthesis on the Role of Economic Issues in the Political Realignment of the 1850'sp. 179
Entrepreneurial Experiences in the Civil War: Evidence from Philadelphiap. 205
The Nineteenth-Century Silver Movement and Aggregate Price Uncertaintyp. 223
The Triumph of Oligopolyp. 241
Notesp. 257
Indexp. 315
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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