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HISTORICAL ROOTS OF REGIONAL INEQUALITY: Evidence from Sweden, 1750-1850

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

Regional inequality was already large and persistent a century before Sweden’s take-off into modern economic growth, according to new research by Kerstin Enflo and Anna Missiaia, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. Although the country was predominantly agricultural, there were large productivity differentials among its regions and the industrial sector presented some dynamism even before industrialisation.

TRADING PARLIAMENTARY VOTES FOR PRIVATE GAIN: Evidence of logrolling in the approval of new railways in 19th century Britain

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

New research finds clear evidence of nineteenth century British politicians trading their votes in Parliament to further their private interests in the emerging railway infrastructure. The study by Rui Esteves and Gabriel Geisler Mesevage, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, concludes that the economic costs of this behaviour were significant, leading to Britain creating a less efficient railway network. 

MORTALITY IN ECONOMIC DOWNTURNS: Unobserved migration can create the false impression that recessions are good for health

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

The severe economic downturn in the cotton textile-producing regions of Britain that resulted from the American civil war (1861-65) was bad for health, raising mortality both in cotton regions and the regions to which unemployed cotton operatives fled. That is the central finding of research by Vellore ArthiBrian Beach and Walker Hanlon, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference.

SKELETAL REMAINS REVEAL THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE IN EUROPE

Date:
29 Mar 2017

Summary:

A study of 15,471 skeletal remains of individuals who lived over the past two millennia in Europe reveal signs of weapon wounds and trauma to the head, which generally result from deliberate acts of violence. Several interesting patterns emerge from the new research by Professor Joerg Baten and colleagues, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference:

HOLDING BREXITEERS TO ACCOUNT: The perspective of economic history

Date:
28 Mar 2017

Summary:

Can the UK achieve the economic success promised by Brexiteers while, at the same time, pursuing a very restrictive approach to immigration? It doesn’t seem likely, according to Adrian Williamson of the University of Cambridge in a presentation at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. After all, successful economies tend to be extremely open to outsiders, who are both a cause and a consequence of growth. 

Of course, Williamson notes, past performance is no guarantee of future prosperity. Historic failure does not preclude future success; and sections of British public opinion have, it appears, ‘had enough of experts’. Even so, there is an important role for economic historians in seeking to analyse the promises of the Brexiteers and how feasible these appear in the light of previous experience.

FORMAL EDUCATION OR LEARNING-BY-DOING? Evidence of the value of both from mining engineers in Chile and Norway 1860-1940

Date:
28 Mar 2017

Summary:

Is formal education useful for industry; or do workers acquire more valuable training outside the setting of school? New research by Kristin Ranestad, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, sheds light on this question with an investigation of the connections between formal education, ‘learning by doing’, networking and innovation in mining from around 1860 to 1940. 

The study shows that workers in Chile and Norway with formal education were increasingly used by the mining industry. At the same time, work experience, especially study travels abroad, provided essential supplementary knowledge to the formal mining instruction. Foreign trips were vital to learn how to use, repair and maintain new mining machinery, tools and techniques and enabled knowledge transfer. They functioned as a form of networking and sometimes led to new investments and business opportunities.

HOUSEHOLDS’ FINANCIAL DECISION-MAKING: Lessons from late Victorian investors

Date:
28 Mar 2017

Summary:

Individual investors in late nineteenth century Britain were quite familiar with the idea of portfolio diversification, but they typically chose not to diversify as much as recommended by the investment advice available at the time. Instead, they relied more closely on local networks of trust for their financial decision-making – whether in terms of the companies in which they invested or of their financial intermediaries. 

These are among the findings of new research by Janette Rutterford and Dimitris Sotiropoulos, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference. Their findings do not mean that investors failed to see the benefits of international or sectoral diversification.

SLAVERY IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND: New evidence of a broad continuation between the 12th and 17th centuries

Date:
28 Mar 2017

Summary:

Historians of medieval England have suggested that slavery had disappeared by the twelfth century. But new research by Judith Spicksley, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, indicates that we have missed the broader continuation of slavery between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. In part this is because it did decline, but it also became less visible. 

On the one hand, the economic roles undertaken by slaves were no different from those done by individuals who were free. On the other hand, the institution of villeinage used a new language to define itself: the unfree were villeins, bondmen and nativi, and were not identified as ‘slaves’.

HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS EDUCATIONAL CHOICES: Lessons from English apprenticeships after the arrival of steam power

Date:
28 Mar 2017

Summary:

The arrival of steam power in late eighteenth century England reduced the willingness of young people to pursue apprenticeships, which for centuries had been the main route to acquiring the skills required for the production of manufactured goods. 

According to new research by Alexandra de PleijtChris Minns and Patrick Wallis, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2017 annual conference, counties saw a fall of 40-50% in the share of population entering into textile apprenticeships once a steam engine was present. Despite the possible association with machine design and maintenance, mechanical apprenticeships also saw a decline of just under 20% following the arrival of steam.

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