Method and Question in Economic History

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 12:30 PM – 2:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner
Hosted By: Economic History Association
  • Chair: Melissa Dell, Harvard University

National Policy for Regional Development: Evidence From Appalachian Highways

Carl Kitchens
,
Florida State University
Taylor Jaworski
,
Queen's University

Abstract

National Policy for Regional Development: Evidence from Appalachian Highways

In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud: Nuclear Testing, Radioactive Fallout and Damage to United States Agriculture

Keith Meyers
,
University of Arizona

Abstract

In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud: Nuclear Testing, Radioactive Fallout and Damage to U.S. Agriculture

Relative Value Significance

Samuel Williamson
,
MeasuringWorth.com

Abstract

Measuring Worth is Better Without the CPI

Economic historians, economists, journalists and the general public are always quoting monetary amounts. Be it prices, incomes, costs or wealth, these numbers are reported to give the readers an idea of the relative value of the item being discussed. When looking at historic amounts, there is often an attempt to differentiate between the nominal and the real value, or the historic and the current day value. The common way to make this distinction is to divide the nominal value by a price index such as the CPI and call it the “real” amount, or say “in current dollars.” With the possible exception of the last ten to fifteen years, this technique creates a misconception of what was the relative worth on that amount in the past period.
This paper presents 12 definitions of how to describe relative worth in the past. Only three use a price deflator and most of the others produce a more significant comparator. These comparators are used on MeasuringWorth about 60,000 times a month.
Discussant(s)
Richard Hornbeck
,
University of Chicago
Kyle Meng
,
University of California-Santa Barbara
Suresh Naidu
,
Columbia University
JEL Classifications
  • N0 - General