The Economics of Slavery

Overview

How are economists and historians to explain what happened in history? What statistical inferences can be drawn from historical data? The authors believe that explanation in history can be identified with the problems of prediction in a probabilistic universe. Using this approach, the historian can act upon his a priori information and his judgment of what is unique and particular in each past event, even with data hitherto considered to be intractable for statistical treatment. In essence, the book is an ...

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Overview

How are economists and historians to explain what happened in history? What statistical inferences can be drawn from historical data? The authors believe that explanation in history can be identified with the problems of prediction in a probabilistic universe. Using this approach, the historian can act upon his a priori information and his judgment of what is unique and particular in each past event, even with data hitherto considered to be intractable for statistical treatment. In essence, the book is an argument for and a demonstration of the point of view that the restricted approach of "measurement without theory" is not necessary in history, or at least not necessary in economic history.

After two chapters of theoretical introduction, the authors explore the meanings and implications of evidence, explanation and proof in history by applying econometric methods to the analysis of three major problems in 19th century economic history--the profitability of slavery in the antebellum South, income growth and development in the United States during the 1800's, and The Great Depression in the British economy; also included is a postscript on growth reassessing some current arguments in the light of the findings of these papers.

The book presents an original and provocative approach to historical problems that have long plagued economists and historians and provides the reader with a new approach to these and similar questions.

Alfred H. Conrad is professor of business administration at Harvard University. Much of Conrad's work has appeared in professional journals.

John R. Meyer is James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Economic Growth emeritus at Harvard University. Meyer's books include The Investment Decision and Economics of Competition in the Transportation Industry. He has served as a board member and economic advisor for various businesses.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202309347
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents


1
Economic Theory, Statistical Inference, and Economic History     3
Statistical Inference and Historical Explanation     31
2
The Economics of Slavery in the Antebellum South     43
Statistical Appendix     85
Comment by Douglas F. Dowd and Reply by the Authors     93
Comment by John E. Moes and Reply by the Authors     99
Income Growth and Structural Change: The United States in the Nineteenth Century     115
An Input-Output Approach to Evaluating British Industrial Production in the Late Nineteenth Century     183
Sources and Methods     200
A Commentary on Hoffman's Historical Indices of British Industrial Production     206
Industry Components of the Sectors of the Input-Output Table     213
3
A Polemical Postcript on Economic Growth     223
Index of Names     237
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