14.731 | Spring 2009 | Graduate

Economic History


Readings should be completed before each class meeting.

Readings by Session


Freedman, David. “Statistical Models and Shoe Leather.” Sociological Methodology 21 (1991): 291-313.

Laslett, Peter. The World We Have Lost: Further Explored. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1983, pp. 81-105, chapter 4. Reprint, New York, NY: Routledge, 1989. ISBN: 9780415029759.

Ogilvie, Sheilagh. “The Economic World of the Bohemian Serf: Economic Concepts, Preferences, and Constraints on the Estate of Friedland, 1583-1692.” The Economic History Review 54, no. 3 (2001): 430-453.

Romer, Paul. “Why, Indeed, in America? Theory, History, and the Origins of Modern Economic Growth.” American Economic Review 86, no. 2 (May 1996): 202-206.



Ashton, T. S. The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830. London, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 1948. Reprinted with a preface and bibliography by Pat Hudson. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780192892898.


Allen, Robert C. “The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective.” Presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research conference on Starting Economic Growth, June 1-2, 2006.

Goldin, Claudia, and Kenneth Sokoloff. “Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Census.” Journal of Economic History 42 (December 1982): 741-774.

———. “The Relative Productivity Hypothesis of Industrialization: The American Case, 1820 to 1850.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 99 (August 1984): 461-487.


Gerschenkron, Alexander. Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962, pp. 5-30, chapter 1. ISBN: 9780674226005.

Murphy, Kevin, Andrei Sheilfer, and Robert Vishny. “Industrialization and the Big Push.” Journal of Political Economy 97, no. 5 (1989): 1003-1026.

Ray, Debraj. Development Economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998, chapter 5. ISBN: 9780691017068.

5 Mokyr, Joel. The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992, chapters 1, 7, 8, 9, and 10. ISBN: 9780195074772.

Pomeranz, Kenneth. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Revised ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001, introduction. ISBN: 9780691090108.

Broadberry, Stephen, and Bishnupriya Gupta. “The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices, and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800.” Economic History Review 59 (February 2006): 2-31.

Flath, David. The Japanese Economy. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 21-42, chapter 2. ISBN: 9780199278619.


North, Douglass C., and Barry R. Weingast. “Constitutions and Commitment: Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth Century England.” Journal of Economic History 49 (1989): 803-832.

Temin, Peter. “Free Land and Federalism: A Synoptic View of American Economic History.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 21 (1991): 371-389.


Engerman, Stanley L., and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. “Factor Endowments: Institutions, and Differential Growth Paths Among New World Economies: A View from Economic Historians of the United States.” National Bureau of Economic Research Historical Working Paper No. 66, December 1994.

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson. “Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 117, no. 4 (2002): 1231-1294.


Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation.” American Economic Review 91 (2001): 1369-1401.

Nunn, Nathan. “The Long-run Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 123, no. 1 (2008): 139-176.

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson. “The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth.” American Economic Review 95 (2005): 546-579.

Acemoglu, Daron, and Simon Johnson. “Unbundling Institutions.” Journal of Political Economy 113 (2005): 949-995.


Banerjee, Abhijit, and Lakshmi Iyer. “History, Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India.” American Economic Review 95 (2005): 1190-1213.

Hornbeck, Richard. “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Evidence on the Effects of Property Rights.” Mimeograph, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008.

Land institutions

Moser, Petra. “How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World’s Fairs.” American Economic Review 95 (September 2005): 1214-1236.

Moser, Petra. “Why Don’t Inventors Patent?” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 13294, August 2007.

Technology institutions

Greif, Avner. “Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders’ Coalition.” American Economic Review 83 (1994): 525-548.

Greif, Avner, Paul Milgrom, and Barry Weingast. “Coordination, Commitment and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild.” Journal of Political Economy 102 (1994): 912-950.

Neal, Larry, and Stephen Quinn. “Networks of Information, Markets, and Institutions in the Rise of London as a Financial Centre, 1660-1720.” Financial History Review 8 (April 2001): 7-26.

Financial institutions
13 No readings Student presentations 1

Greenstone, Michael, Paul Oyer, and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen. “Mandated Disclosure, Stock Returns, and the 1964 Securities Act.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 121, no. 2 (May 2006): 399-460.

Benston, George. “Required Disclosure and the Stock Market: An Evaluation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.” American Economic Review 63 (March 1973): 132-155.

Stock market regulation and student presentations

Calomiris, Charles W., and Joseph R. Mason. “Consequences of Bank Distress during the Great Depression.” American Economic Review 93, no. 3 (June 2003): 937-947.

———. “Fundamentals, Panics, and Bank Distress during the Depression.” American Economic Review 93, no. 5 (December 2003): 1615-1647.

Bernanke, Ben S. “Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression.” American Economic Review 73, no. 3 (June 1983): 257-276.

Financial crises

Acemolgu, D., D. Autor, and D. Lyle. “Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury.” Journal of Political Economy 112, no. 3 (June 2004): 497-551.

Angrist, J. “How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America’s Second Generation.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 117, no. 3 (August 2002): 997-1038.

Labor topics

Costa, Dora. “Pensions and Retirement: Evidence from Union Army Veterans.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 110, no. 2 (May 1995): 297-320.

Angrist, J. “Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records.” American Economic Review 80, no. 3 (June 1990): 313-336.


Carrington, William J. “The Alaskan Labor Market during the Pipeline Era.” Journal of Political Economy 104, no. 1 (1996): 186-218.

Margo, Robert A. “Wages in California during the Gold Rush.” National Bureau of Economic Research Historical Working Paper No. 101, June 1997.

Boustan, Leah. “Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940-1970.” Journal of Economic History, forthcoming. Also available as National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 13813.

Ferrie, Joseph P. “History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States since 1850.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, no. 3 (Summer 2005): 199-215. Also available as National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 11324.


Williamson, Jeffrey. “Migration and Urbanization.” In Handbook of Development Economics. Vol. 1. Edited by Hollis Chenery and T. N. Srinivasan. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: North Holland, 1988. ISBN: 9780444703378.


Davis, Donald R., and David E. Weinstein. “Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity.” American Economic Review 92, no. 5 (2002): 1269-1289. (PDF)

Hornbeck, Richard. “Quantifying Long-term Adjustment to Environmental Change: Evidence from the American Dust Bowl.” Mimeograph, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008.

Redding, Stephen J., and Daniel M. Sturm. “The Costs of Remoteness: Evidence from German Division and Reunification.” American Economic Review 98, no. 5 (December 2008): 1766-1797.

Recovery after shocks

Costa, Dora L. “The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991.” Journal of Labor Economics 18 (January 2000): 156-181.

Goldin, Claudia, and Robert A. Margo. “The Great Compression: The U.S. Wage Structure at Mid-Century.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107, no. 1 (February 1992): 1-34.

Goldin, Claudia, and Lawrence F. Katz. “Decreasing (and Then Increasing) Inequality in America.” Chapter 2 in The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Inequality. Edited by Finis Welch. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001, pp. 37-82. ISBN: 9780226893013.

Wages and inequality

Goldin, Claudia. “Preface,” “Women’s Experience in the American Economy,” and “The Emergence of ‘Wage Discrimination’.” Preface and Chapters 1 and 4 in Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 3-9 and 83-118. ISBN: 9780195072709.

Acemoglu, Daron, and Joshua Angrist. “Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans With Disabilities Act.” Journal of Political Economy 109 (2001): 915-957.

Heckman, James J. “Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina.” American Economic Review 79 (March 1989): 138-177.

Donohue, John J., and James J. Heckman. “Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks.” Journal of Economic Literature 29, no. 4 (1991): 1603-1643.


Galor, Oded, and David Weil. “Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition.” American Economic Review 90 (September 2000): 806-828.

Boyer, George. “Malthus Was Right After All: Poor Relief and Birth Rates in Southeastern England.” Journal of Political Economy 97 (February 1989): 93-114.

Becker, G., and H. G. Lewis. “On the Interaction Between the Quantity and Quality of Children.” Journal of Political Economy 81, no. 2, part 2 (March-April 1973): S279-S288.

Demographic transition

Sacerdote, Bruce. “Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital.” Review of Economics and Statistics 87 (May 2005): 217-234.

Solon, Gary. “Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States.” American Economic Review 82, no. 3 (June 1992): 393-408.

Becker, Gary, and Nigel Tomes. “Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families.” Journal of Labor Economics 4 (1986): S1-S39.

Intergenerational mobility

Almond, Douglas. “Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population.” Journal of Political Economy 114, no. 4 (August 2006): 672-712.

Bleakley, Hoyt. “Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South.Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, no. 1 (February 2007): 73-117.

Cutler, David, and Grant Miller. “Water, Water Everywhere: Municipal Finance and Water Supply in American Cities.” Chapter 5 in Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America’s Economic History. Edited by Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 153-86. ISBN: 9780226299587.

25 No readings Student presentations 2

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments with Examples