Call for papers: Big counterfactuals of macro-political history

Conference to be held at the University of Manchester

Part of the CEPR Economic History programme

With generous support from the Hallsworth Conference Fund, University of Manchester

Date:

Friday March 24, 2023

Note: This conference is expected to take place offline only.

Conference title:

Big counterfactuals of macro-political history

Keynote speakers:

James A. Robinson (University of Chicago) and Walter Scheidel (Stanford University)

Policy session:

Estimating policy counterfactuals: are the identification challenges insurmountable?, with the participation of Rachel Griffith, University of Manchester

Conference organizers:

Guillaume Blanc, Nicholas Gachet, Nuno Palma, and Meng Wu, Unversity of Manchester.

Conference theme:

We plan to accept papers that cover macro/political historical counterfactuals. This will be an interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together a mix of early-career researchers and senior scholars who specialized in the intersection between comparative development and historical political economy. One of the main challenges of these topics is to find or construct credible counterfactuals to compare and contrast how different events of macro-political history has affected certain economic, political and social outcomes.

The disentanglement of causal effects has brought together, probably more than ever, different fields within social science. In this conference, we will reflect on the different methodologies and understanding of causality, within the context of macro-political history, and considering the applied work of the different researchers.

The keynote speakers, Professor James Robinson (University of Chicago) and Professor Walter Scheidel (Stanford), are two major scholars in the field and will provide state-of-the-art addresses.

Costs and funding:

There will be no conference fee. We have secured funding which will cover catering costs and dinner, in addition to travel and accommodation costs (2 nights) for graduate students who do not have funds from their own institutions. We expect presenters to be a mix of junior and senior scholars. It is unlikely that we will be able to fund full travel and accommodation costs for all participants. Tenured faculty, in particular, will be expected to cover their travel and accommodation costs.

Accommodation

We suggest Hyatt Regency as the accommodation in-campus. For those looking for budget accommodation, we suggest Luther King House.

Social visit

On the day after the conference, there will be an optional visit to Ancoats, followed by lunch at the Curry Mile.

Deadlines:

February 6 – deadline to send us a paper proposal

February 13 – we will communicate the accepted proposals (and possibly a waiting list)

February 24 – program will be posted

For applications, please email a paper proposal to Guillaume Blanc and Nuno Palma.

The University of Manchester

Job opportunity (predocs welcome)

I tweeted about a Research Assistant (RA) job opportunity, and will leave this here as well as a sort of permanent ad, since I regularly need to hire RAs (typically I hire at least 2 per year, funded through various research projects/funds).

The hours are flexible and the salary competitive. You do not need to be a predoc, but predocs are very welcome to apply and probably fit well the job. If you are or want to be a predoc be sure to say so in your cover letter. If you are an ambitious economics masters student, or if you have finished your masters and are considering applying for a doctorate, this could be a great opportunity. I am more than willing to write strong recommendation letters for my collaborators, and some have entered good programs such as the LSE at least partialy as a result.

Stata skills are essential, and some prior experience with empirical work is recommended.

After an initial probation period, work often becomes regular. In the past, some of the best RAs have become co-authors; one example is one of my main collaborators nowadays, Adam Brzezinski, who started working with me when he was still a masters student and is now finishing his doctorate at Oxford. One of our papers is forthcoming at the Review of Economics and Statistics, and we have others in progress. So it can definately be a win-win situation!

Those wanting to work only during the summer (perhaps a bit more intensively) are more than welcome to apply.

Apply by sending me a CV and a short (1-paragraph) cover letter by email. I will get back to you if you are shortlisted and more info may be requested. Good luck!

Postdoc opportunities

Simon and Hallsworth Fellowships at The University of Manchester.

  • For early-career researchers with a doctoral degree
  • The deadline for applications is 11 May 2022.

Details here and here.

Economic historians are highly encouraged to apply. Do write to Nuno Palma with any informal enquiries. Join our group, which from September is expected to have 2 faculty members, 2 postdocs, and 3 PhD students working on economic history.

Please do read the requirements carefully before writing or applying. I copy some below.

The following list applies to both the Simon and Hallsworth funds.

  • A PhD to have been awarded by the closing date for applications and not more than four years prior to the closing date for applications. (The Fellowship Committee will take into account special circumstances i.e. career breaks in respect of the four year postdoctoral experience regulation.)
  • Demonstrable potential for high quality research in relevant subject areas through, for example, a record of research and publications appropriate to the level of post-doctoral experience.
  • The ability to construct a creative, excellent and achievable research proposal that is relevant to their nominated academic centre’s (ie School) overall research plans.
  • The ability to function as an independent researcher, including managing large research projects and meeting deadlines.
  • Candidates must not have held, or currently hold, a permanent academic position (rolling temporary contracts do not, in this case, equate to a permanent position).
  • The potential to reach the requisite research profile to secure an academic post on completion of the Fellowship.
  • The following would be a distinct advantage: A degree (undergraduate or postgraduate) from a Higher Education Institution within the British Commonwealth.

For questions relating to the Fellowships please see our list of frequently asked questions.

Addendum – see also this opportunity from the Economic History Society:

Call for papers: The Chinese Economy in the Long Run

Conference to be held at the University of Manchester

Part of the CEPR Economic History programme

Date:

October 21, 2022

Conference title:

The Chinese Economy in the Long Run

Note: This conference is expected to take place offline only.

Opening address:

Melanie Xue (LSE)

Keynote speakers:

Stephen Broadberry (Oxford) and Richard von Glahn (UCLA)

Roundtable:

Was there a scientific and institutional Great Divergence prior to the Great Divergence of incomes? – with Jack Goldstone (GMU), Stephen Morgan (Nottingham), Patrick O’Brien (LSE) and Meng Wu (Manchester)

Closing address:

Debin Ma (University of Oxford)

Conference organizers:

Nuno Palma and Meng Wu, Unversity of Manchester.

Conference theme:

We plan to accept papers that cover economic aspects of about all periods of Chinese history up to 1979.

Costs and funding:

There will be no conference fee. We have secured funding which will cover catering costs and dinner, as well as travel and accommodation costs for graduate students who do not have funds from their own institutions. We expect presenters to be a mix of junior and senior scholars. Pending on other ongoing funding applications, we may be able to fund additional benefits for those who need this in order to attend. However, it is unlikely that we will be able to fund full travel and accommodation costs for all participants. Tenured faculty, in particular, will be expected to cover their travel and accommodation costs.

Accomodation

We suggest Hyatt Regency as the accommodation in-campus. For those looking for budget accommodation, we suggest Luther King House.

Social visit

On the morning of the day after the conference, there will be an optional visit to the Quarry Bank Mill.

Deadlines:

September 23– deadline to send us a paper proposal

September 30 – we will communicate the accepted proposals (and possibly a waiting list)

October 7 – final program will be posted

For applications, please email a paper proposal to both Nuno Palma and Meng Wu.

Note: the conference is expected to take place offline only.

The University of Manchester

Conference program: Early modern science, technology, and institutions

Here’s the program for this conference, previously announced as a call for papers here. The program below is preliminary and subject to change. Check this website for the latest updates.

University of Manchester

Date:

May 13, 2022

Conference title:

Early modern science, technology, and institutions

Location:

Arthur Lewis Building, room 2.16/17 (boardroom)

New room: Arthur Lewis building, G30 (ground floor)

Note: This conference is expected to take place offline only.

Keynote speakers:

Debin Ma (University of Oxford) and David de la Croix (U. Catholique de Louvain)

Roundtable discussion on the Origins of the Great Divergence:

Stephen Broadberry (Oxford), Markus Eberhardt (Nottingham), Debin Ma (Oxford), Alka Raman (EHS-IHR Fellow), and Meng Wu (Manchester).

Closing address:

Stephen Morgan (Nottingham)

Conference organizers:

Nuno Palma and Meng Wu, Unversity of Manchester.

Funding, travel, and accomodation:

There is no conference fee. The lunch, dinner, and coffee breaks, will be covered by us, thanks to a British Academy Grant. Please let us know if you are planning to come to the dinner at least one week before the day of the conference. We unfortunately do not have enough funds to cover travel and accommodation costs. We suggest Hyatt Regency as the accommodation in-campus. For those looking for budget accommodation, we suggest Luther King House.

Social visit

On the day after the conference, there will be an optional lunch at the Curry Mile.

Program:

9.00-10.00. Keynote 1: Debin Ma (Univ. of Oxford)

10.00-10.20. Coffee break

10.20-10.35. Time for interaction with poster presenters

10.35-10.50. Yuzuru Kumon (Toulouse), “How Equality Created Poverty: Japanese Wealth Distribution and Living Standards 1600-1870

10.50-11.05. Alka Raman (EHS-IHR Fellow), “From Artistry to Chemistry: The Impact of Indian Calico Printing Techniques on Calico Printing in Britain, 1720-1860”

11.05-11.20. Carolyn Sissoko (Univ. of Bristol). “Why Lancashire? Banking as the spark that set off industrialization”

11.20-11.35. Ralf R. Meisenzahl (Chicago Fed), “The Research University, Invention, and Industry: Evidence from German History”

11.40-12.00. Coffee break

12.00-13.00. Roundtable discussion on the Origins of the Great Divergence with Stephen Broadberry (Oxford), Markus Eberhardt (Nottingham), Debin Ma (Oxford), Stephen Morgan (Nottingham), Alka Raman (EHS-IHR Fellow), and Meng Wu (Manchester).

1300-14.00 Lunch

Lunch location: G.033, The Mill, Manchester Alliance Business School Building (2 mins. walk).

14.00-15.00. Keynote 2: David de la Croix (U.C. Louvain)

15.00-15.20 Coffee break

15.20-15.35. N. Palma (University of Manchester), “Comparative European Institutions and the Little Divergence, 1385-1800“.

15.35-15.50. Matias Cabello (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg), “The Counter-Reformation, Science, and Long-Term Growth: A Propaganda-Driven Myth?”

15.50-16.05. Francisco Malta Romeiras (Univ. of Lisbon), “The Pombaline Expulsion and the Building of Anti-Jesuitism in Eighteenth-century Portugal

16.05-16.20 Coffee Break

16.20-16.35. Leandro De Magalhaes (Bristol), “War and the rise of Parliaments

16.35-16.50. Felicia Gottmann, Floris van Swet, Rémi Dewière (Northumbria University), “Migration and technological innovation: a global history project”

16.50-17.30. Closing address, Stephen Morgan (Nottingham)

17.30. END OF CONFERENCE, followed by dinner at 18.00.

The dinner will be at a restaurant nearby.

Note: Jack Goldstone and Patrick O’Brien have had to cancel their presence at this conference, but both hope to join us for the October conference instead.

Map of Palmanova in 1593

Poster sessions:

Suggested poster size: A1

Andreas Link (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), “The Fall of Constantinople and the Rise of the West”

Nora (Yitong) Qiu (LSE), “The Politics of Confiscation in Qing China”

Nuno Morgado (Corvinus University), “The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance as an Institution: long-term dynamics justified by interests alone?”

José Moreno (Lisbon), “Reaching the unreachable. Iberian institutions and new tools for the control of long-distance oceanic voyages”

Tanguy Le Fur (NYU Abu Dhabi), “Public Health Investments and the Direction of Technological Progress: A Theory of Deskilling During the British Industrial Revolution

Song Yuan (Warwick), “The Cultural Origins of Family Firms”

Chiara Zanardello (Louvain), “Market forces in Italian Academia today (and yesterday)

Zhao Dong (Oxford), “The Great Divergence Revisited: Economic Transformations of China Under Mongol Rule, 1271-1368”

Chenyang Qi (Central University of Finance and Economics, China & University of Manchester), “The fate of Taiping rebellion: Rethinking fiscal transfers during the rebellion”

The University of Manchester

Call for papers: Economic Consequences of the Age of Liberal Revolutions, 1810-1848

Conference to be held at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa

Date:

September 23, 2022

Conference title:

Economic Consequences of the Age of Liberal Revolutions: 1810-48

Location:

Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa

Note: This conference is expected to take place offline only.

Keynote speaker:

Leandro Prados de la Escosura (Carlos III)

Roundtable about the impact in Iberia:

José Luís Cardoso (ICS), Guillaume Daudin (Université Paris Dauphine), Leandro Prados de la Escosura (Carlos III), Margarida Sobral Neto (Coimbra), José Vicente Serrão (ISCTE), Cristina Nogueira da Silva (U. Nova de Lisboa).

The roundtable of the Economic Consequences of the Age of Liberal Revolutions: 1810-48 conference will debate how the economic and institutional historiography has analysed the impact of revolution in the Iberian context in the last decades. The speakers will be challenged to reflect on the following questions: what legacies remained from the Ancient Regime?; what new liberal/constitutional elements were introduced in the first decades after the Revolution?; moreover, was the Revolution truly revolutionary or did it fail in its intentions? The debate will focus not only on how the literature has traditionally considered these matters but also on what new approaches could be brought into the discussion.

Conference organizers:

Nuno Palma (U. Manchester, ICS-UL and CEPR) and Renato Pistola (ICS-UL).

Conference theme:

We plan to accept papers that cover economic aspects of the impact of the liberal revolutions of the first half of the nineteenth century. We are particularly interested in the context of Iberia but in a comparative framework, both relative to different countries and across time. To which extent did the Liberal/Constitutional reforms change the nature of property rights and the law, in ways that affected economic incentives? Why did the reforms did not in fact lead to sustained economic growth and convergence for the Iberian economies?

Costs and funding:

There will be a small conference fee (around 20 euro) to cover lunch and coffee breaks only. Due to limited funding, we cannot cover travel and accommodation costs, unfortunately.

Deadlines:

September 2, 2022 – deadline to send us a paper proposal (1 page max.)

September 5, 2022 – we will communicate the accepted proposals (and possibly a waiting list)

September 16, 2022 –the program will be posted.

For applications, please email a paper proposal to both Nuno Palma and Renato Pistola.

Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa

Royal Economic Society 2020 Annual Conference, University of Manchester hub (theme: Economic Growth)

Royal Economic Society 2020 Annual Conference, University of Manchester hub (theme: Economic Growth)

Tuesday 12 April, 2022

12.30 – 13.30 Buffet lunch, provisionally for 100 people, Foyer Space in Mansfield Cooper

13:30 – 15.00 Keynote Oded Galor (Brown University), Mansfield Cooper G.21 & livestreamed. Chaired by the Head of Department, Akos Valentinyi.

15.00 – 16.30 Coffee Break, posters sessions & special parallel sessions (watched on individual computers), Foyer Space in Mansfield Cooper

Display stands with poster presentations (mainly from posdocs and PhD students from all over the UK). If you are interested in presenting, please check the RES website.

16.30 – 17.30. Livestreaming of Serena Ng’s talk, Mansfield Cooper G.21

The University of Manchester

Interview to Atlantico

Here’s the transcript, in English, of a recent interview I gave to the French media Atlantico, concerning this paper (joint work with Jaime Reis and Lisbeth Rodrigues).

The interview concerns the causes of the Little and Great Divergences, with particular attention to the “Girl Power” hypothesis. (A recent VoxEU column is also available in this link.)

My French is not great so I responded in English. I copy below the responses that I sent them.

In your study “Historical gender discrimination does not explain comparative Western European development”, you mention the fact that the slow economic growth of south-western Europe since the Middle Ages is often attributed to the lesser influence of women compared to northern countries such as England or the Netherlands. Where do we find such statements? Why is this explanation so common?

Around 1900, Global Inequality between countries was at an all-time high. Most of Europe and its offshoots (such and the USA and Australia) had been growing systematically for a long time, while much of the rest of the world had not, including the largest regions by population like China and India.

In the prior centuries, from the late Middle Ages until the early Twentieth Century, the world had witnessed two important economic divergences. One was the Great Divergence: how the richer parts of Europe (e.g. England) became much richer than the richer parts of the rest of the world (e.g. the Yangtze Delta). And even the poorer parts of Europe became considerably richer than the poorer parts of the rest of the world.

The other was the Little Divergence: how the richer parts of Europe (Northwestern Europe) became much richer than the poorest parts of Europe (Southern and Eastern Europe).

There are different explanations in the literature for why these divergences happened. One explanation is cultural, and states that there is a particular “European” way of thinking and acting, and one manifestation of this was comparatively high female agency and an original European Marriage Pattern (EMP), which can be characterized by later female first marriage ages than other parts of the world, a relatively high celibacy rate, and marriages that were monogamous, exogamous, based on consensus and neo-locality. Regardless of the ultimate cause of these cultural behaviors — I personally believe that political institutions are jointly determined with and can shape culture over time and not just the opposite – it does seem undeniable that there was particular, individualist, comparatively liberal way of thinking and acting in Europe, coming from the Middle Ages already – an European culture, if you will.

This European culture was reflected in comparatively high female agency, by contrast with most other parts of the world. It was, in particular, Western European: the first to propose the EMP was a Hungarian scholar, John Hajnal, who in 1965 proposed what is now known as the Hajnal line: an imaginary line running between Saint Petersburg and Trieste, to the West of which the EMP operated. A good book to understand the deep origins of a Western European mentality and political culture is in my view Siedentop’s Inventing the individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism.

Concerning the Little Divergence, one well-known and increasingly popular explanation for it, associated in particular with Jan Luiten van Zanden and his multiple co-authors, is essentially that Southwestern/Mediterranean Europe was not really part of Western Europe in this EMP sense. According to this explanation, the lower female agency which characterized regions such as Spain, Portugal, or even south France and south Italy explain their comparative underdevelopment. Women, this literature claims, married early, had high fertility (with consequences for low human capital accumulation, of themselves and their children), did not participate in the labor market as much as elsewhere, and faced comparatively high gender wage gaps, which were supposedly determined by social norms, not market forces. A related literature also exists which splits Europe in religious terms, for instance Joseph Henrich argues that the EMP was stronger in Protestant regions of Europe.

What we’ve done in our present paper was show this was not, empirically, the case. Culturally, something we can call “Western Europe” did exist, with variations within, but these differences could not be first-order to explain the Little Divergence. Dennison and Ogilvie had already shown in fact that the parts of Europe where the EMP were historically stronger were not the most successful in a development sense.

But let me be clear. The evidence does not support the view that the Southern or Catholic part of Western Europe discriminated against women more, but it does largely support Hajnal’s original point that there is such a thing as a “Western European” culture reflected in high female agency and the EMP, among other aspects. In the long run, this may have been a key advantage of Western Europe relative to other parts of the world. In this sense my disagreement with Jan Luiten van Zanden – a scholar for whom I have the utmost respect – is only partial.

One of your conclusions is that economic development fosters the improvement of women rights and not the over way round. Is that the explanation for usual misreading of the situation?

The usual explanation – most associated with Jan Luiten van Zanden and his co-authors –  is that the high female agency was a cause of development: the regions of Europe that had it grew more. We are pointing out that, within Western Europe, there were not important historical differences in female agency. Consequently the differences in rights that emerged – mostly only visible only by the early Twentieth century and for the most part gone by the late 1970s – were more in fact a consequence of differential development.

You’ve compared the discrimination against woman in several countries, including, Portugal, England, Netherlands, etc. You’ve found no significant differences in the discrimination towards women. How do you measure that?

We rely on a new dataset of thousands of observations from archival sources covering six centuries, and we complement it with a qualitative discussion of comparative social norms. Compared with Northwestern Europe, women in Portugal faced similar gender wage gaps, married at similar ages, and did not face more restrictions to labor market participation.

What are the influences of the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) according to your findings? 

Please see above

You write that “an explanation for the growing income inequality between European countries during the early modern period, especially from the mid-seventeenth century onward – the ‘Little Divergence’ – must be found elsewhere” than gender discrimination. Do you have leads on what might be the explicative factor?

As I mentioned, by the late Middle Ages Western Europe was characterized by an individualist culture that was jointly determined with representative and even proto-democratic political institutions. Parliaments, the judiciary, and the independent power of the Church led to checks and balances to executive power in a way that was particularly Western European and absent from all other parts of the world. Scholars such as Acemoglu and Robinson believe that the Crowns of Spain and Portugal were absolutist already around 1500, but the evidence does not in fact support this claim. Instead, the evidence suggests that Iberia [later] suffered from a resource curse. Note that the second country to have an Industrial Revolution was [Catholic] Belgium, and France followed shortly afterwards. At the same time, Italy and Germany were able to industrialize quickly once they unified politically, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

American treasure and the decline of Spain

Let London manufacture those fine fabrics of hers to her heart’s content; Holland her chambrays; Florence her cloth … Milan her brocades, Italy and Flanders their linens … so long as our capital can enjoy them; the only thing it proves is that all nations train journeymen for Madrid … for all the world serves her and she serves nobody

Alfonso Núñez de Castro, writing in 1675

New working paper (joint with Carlos Javier Charotti and João Pereira dos Santos). Available as CEPR working paper (gated) and as a University of Manchester working paper here (ungated).

Spain was one of the world’s richest countries around 1500. Two centuries later it was poor and 2nd-rank. We investigate why.

We use synthetic controls to investigate why Spain failed. We find support for the resource curse hypothesis: the its endowment of American precious metals had negative economic and political consequences for Spain in the long run, as was already argued by some contemporaries in sixteenth-century debates, and more recently by Earl . J. Hamilton in the 1930s and by Mauricio Drelichman in the early 2000s.

Here’s the abstract for our paper:

Spain was one of the world’s richest countries and a first-rank European power around 1500. Two centuries later it was a backwater. In this paper, we study the long-run impact of the influx of silver from the New World since 1500 for the economic development of Spain. Compared with a synthetic counterfactual, the price level in Spain increased by up to 200% more by the mid-seventeenth century. Spain’s GDP per capita outperformed other European nations for around a century: by 1600, it was close to 40% higher than in its synthetic counterfactual. However, this effect was reversed in the following 150 years: by 1750, GDP per capita was 40% lower than it would have been if Spain had not been the first-wave receiver of the American treasure.

And here are the main figures.

Price level:

Price level

GDP per capita:

GDP per capita

And GDP:

GDP
Example of an actual chest used to bring the treasure to Spain. Each ship could transport several of these.