Economic history

Marianne Bertrand, Chang-Tai Hsieh, Nick Tsivanidis, 20 October 2021

Changes in contract labour regulation were introduced in India in the late 1940s. The hope was that controlling whether firms could downsize would reduce mass job losses as large British companies left the country post-independence. This column explores the effect of the Industrial Disputes Act on firms of different sizes. The authors find that smaller firms did not see much change, but larger firms did employ fewer contract workers as a result. However, this effect was driven by firms exploiting a loophole, rather than the law itself.

Michael Bordo, 19 October 2021

Monetary transformations through history have been driven by changing technology, changing tastes, economic growth, and the demands to effectively satisfy the functions of money. This column argues that technological change in money and finance is inevitable, driven by the financial incentives of a market economy, and identifies four key lessons central banks could learn from history to enable them to provide digital currency to effectively fulfil their public mandates.

Gerhard Toews, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 23 September 2021

‘Enemies of the people’ were the millions of artists, engineers, managers, or professors who were thought to be a threat to the Soviet regime solely for being the educated elite. Along with millions of non-political prisoners, they were forcedly resettled to the Gulag, the system of labour camps across the Soviet Union. This column looks at the long-run consequences of this dark resettlement episode. It shows that areas around camps with a larger share of enemies of the people among camp prisoners are more prosperous today, as captured by firms’ wages and profits, as well as night lights per capita. 

Mark Taylor, 05 September 2021

The late 19th-century decline in British agricultural prices shrank the incomes of aristocrats and of land-owning ‘commoners’ as well. To carry on the tradition of raising money through auspicious marriages, British aristocrats looked across the Atlantic – to US heiresses with large dowries but no pedigrees, even by the standards of their own country. This column examines the social and economic forces that steered the daughters of US business magnates into marriages with British aristocrats. 

Jenny Guardado, 04 September 2021

The 2021 victory of Pedro Castillo as president of Peru is commonly attributed to the support of poor, rural, and indigenous groups. However, profound historical factors also played a role. In particular, areas where colonial rule was more ruthless in the 18th century – as measured by the expected returns to office, the tax burden, and the intensity of anti-colonial rebellions – exhibited higher support for Castillo in 2021. Interestingly, this support is not visible for other leftist and Marxist parties in the elections of 1980 and 1985.

Other Recent Articles:

Events

CEPR Policy Research