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DEMOCRACY AND TAXATION IN GREECE: A long history of rural favouritism

Date:
30 Mar 2017

Summary:

Greece established universal male suffrage in 1864, while it was still a developing pure agrarian economy, stimulating a shift in the implemented fiscal policy in favour of the rural population. In contrast, in more industrialised European economies, democratisation revealed the political preferences of a more urbanised electorate – mostly consisting of workers and middle class capitalists – leading to changes in fiscal policy that deviate significantly to those observed in an agrarian economy. 

These are the conclusions of new research by Pantelis Kammas and Vassilis Sarantides, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. Their study highlights the importance of economic development in the relationship between democracy and taxation, focusing mainly on the case of Greece during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

BODIES AS COMMODITIES: The medieval trade in Christian saints’ relics

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

The human remains of Christian saints held a special position in the medieval economy. The value of these relics was based in part on their connection to the spirit that had once inhabited the body, or the personality of the saint. But because they were objects (and often highly mobile objects too), relics were commoditised by medieval society – traded, bought and sold for profit by the communities that held them. 

A new study by Elizabeth Wiedenheft, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, explores the exchange of relics as social tools in return for land and social power to illustrate their value to the Church.  She concludes that research into the status of relics, how they were exchanged and the economic benefits accrued through their acquisition can have some bearing on modern conceptions of the worth of the human body, as well as the tension between creating capital and promoting the sacred in modern Christianity.

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE FOR GROWTH: Evidence from Sweden’s 19th century investment in rail

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

The spread of rail networks in nineteenth century Sweden set in motion a virtuous cycle of economic development in peripheral rural areas, which saw a rapid expansion of industrial activity and massive inflows of immigrants. But although the countryside areas traversed by the rail network saw an expansion of industrial activity, these gains were fully concentrated in areas that had been industrial centres prior to the new infrastructure being rolled out. 

These are among the findings of new research by Thor Berger, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. His study shows that in the least industrial areas of Sweden, manufacturing activity was drawn away towards more industrial areas, leading to net losses in industrial activity. In contrast, in the areas with pre-existing industrial agglomerations, industrial growth accelerated by almost 50% relative to other areas.

CHILD LABOUR IN 18TH CENTURY ENGLAND: Evidence from the Foundling Hospital

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

While putting children to work seems cruel to us, in eighteenth century England it was a key educational strategy to help them achieve economic independence in adulthood. Its financial and logistical benefits were welcome too. 

These are among the conclusions of new research by Alice Dolan, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. Her study examines the example of the Foundling Hospital, a charitable institution that supported abandoned children and was a keen believer in the benefits of child labour. The Hospital sought to produce upright citizens that would be able to support themselves as adults.

THE VICTORIAN ERA AS A GOLDEN AGE FOR THE ELDERLY: New evidence on employment, retirement and pensions for the over sixties

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

While old people lead healthier and longer lives today than they have ever done, it would be wrong to conclude that their counterparts in Victorian Britain were largely condemned to lives of pain and poverty. According to new research by Tom Heritage, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, they had a wide range of experiences, and many had access to employment opportunities and sources of assistance that are no longer offered.

HEALTH IMPACTS OF AIR POLLUTION: Evidence from the heights of British soldiers in the First World War

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

Smoke pollution from factories in late nineteenth Britain had a highly damaging effect on the health of children as indicated by the height reached in adulthood by those born in the 1890s. New research by Professor Timothy Hatton, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, reveals that the average height of children who grew up in the most coal-intensive parts of the country was nearly an inch (2cm) shorter than those in the least coal-intensive locations.

MONETARY REGIMES: New evidence of the impact on financial stability since 1920

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

New research by German Forero-Laverde, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, examines a key factor in the frequency and intensity of booms and busts in stock and credit markets: the ‘rules of the game’ – the idea that different monetary regimes endow the financial system with varying levels of elasticity, allowing for imbalances to accumulate in the form of booms and unwind in the form of crises at different rates and intensity. He concludes that:

FIVE CENTURIES OF FRENCH ECONOMIC STAGNATION: From Philippe Le Bel to the Revolution, 1280-1789

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

The dominant pattern of the French economy in the five hundred years before the Revolution was one of stagnation in levels of output per capita. New research by Leonardo Ridolfi, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, shows that pre-revolutionary France was an inherently stagnating growthless system – a ‘société immobile’, which at the beginning of the eighteenth century was not much different than five centuries earlier.

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