Persistence, Adaptation, and Survival in Economic History

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM

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

Adaptation and Survival in the Brewing Industry During Prohibition

Carlos Eduardo Hernandez
University of Los Andes


Adaptation and Survival in the Brewing Industry during Prohibition

Migration as a Channel of Persistence of the Effects of Peru's Mining Mita: What Surnames May Reveal

Miguel Angel Carpio
University of Piura
Maria Eugenia Guerrero
University of Piura


We propose three indicators constructed from the surnames of the current population to analyze the effect of mita, a forced labor system in Peru during 1573 and 1812, on historical migration. We argue that surnames within a community might be the same over time unless migration takes place. We use an RDD similar to Dell (2010), which exploits its exogenous geographic assignment. Our results show that mita districts currently have 47% fewer surnames than non-mita districts, 65% fewer surnames that are present in only one district and 93% fewer surnames that are solely present in one area (mita or non-mita).

High-Value Work and the Rise of Women: The Cotton Revolution and Gender Equality in China

Melanie Meng Xue
University of California-Los Angeles


The cotton revolution (1300-1840 AD) in imperial China constituted a substantial shock to the value of women's work. Using historical gazetteers, I exploit variation in cotton textile production across 1,489 counties and establish a robust negative relationship between high-value work opportunities for women in the past and sex ratio at birth in 2000. To overcome potential endogeneity in location, I use an instrument pertaining to suitability for cotton weaving. I find evidence that premodern cotton textile production permanently changed cultural beliefs about women's worth, and that its effects have persisted beyond 1840 and endured under various political and economic regimes.

Warlords, Civil Wars, and Industrial Development in Early Twentieth-Century China

Cong Liu
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics


This paper examines how political fragmentation affects industrial development. China was
a politically unied nation before 1912, but gradually divided by political chaos from 1912 to
1916. In 1916, the death of President Yuan finally led to political fragmentation. The originally
unied territory were de facto controlled by different warlords, who competed with each other
for larger territories. Using a newly constructed dataset, I conduct a difference-in-differences
analysis to examine the impact of this shock on industrial development, measured by the number
of newly established Chinese industrial firms. I find that political fragmentation was associated
with divergent growth paths in different regions. Counties ruled by big warlords experienced
substantially more establishments of industrial firms than the ones ruled by small warlords.
Narrative evidence suggests that worries about potential political riots might have played a
role. Facing high possibility of local riots, firms believed that big warlords were more likely
to provide a safe commercial environment. In addition, the overall number of firms increased
after political fragmentation, suggesting that a competing political environment might have
facilitated industrial development.
Camilo Garcia-Jimeno
University of Pennsylvnia
Melissa Dell
Harvard University
Nancy Qian
Northwestern University
Noam Yucthman
University of California-Berkeley
JEL Classifications
  • N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy