How to Keep Society Equal: The Case of Pre-industrial East Asia (NR Online Session 4)

By Yuzuru Kumon (Bocconi University)

This research is due to be presented in the fourth New Researcher Online Session: ‘Equality & Wages’.

Kumon2

Theatrum orbis terrarum: Map Tartaria, by Abraham Ortelius. Available at State Library Victoria.

 

 

Is high inequality destiny? The established view is that societies naturally converge towards high inequality in the absence of catastrophes (world wars or revolutions) or the progressive taxation of the rich. Yet, I show that rural Japan, 1700-1870, is an unexpected historical case in which a stable equality was sustained without such aids. Most peasants owned land, the most valuable asset in an agricultural economy, and Japan remained a society of land-owning peasants. This contrasts with the landless laborer societies of contemporary Western Europe which were highly unequal. Why were the outcomes so different?

My research shows that the relative equality of pre-industrial Japan can partly be explained by the widespread use of adoptions in Japan, which was used as a means of securing a male heir. The reasoning becomes clear if we first consider the case of the Earls Cowper in 18th century England where adoption was not practiced. The first Earl Cowper was a modest landowner and married Mary Clavering in 1706. When Mary’s brother subsequently died, she became the heiress and the couple inherited the Clavering estate. Similar (miss)fortunes for their heirs led the Cowpers to become one of the greatest landed families of England. The Cowpers were not particularly lucky, as one quarter of families were heirless during this era of high child mortality. The outcome of this death lottery was inequality.

Had the Cowpers lived in contemporary Japan, they would have remained modest landowners. An heirless household in Japan would adopt a son. Hence, the Claverings would have an adopted son and the family estate would have remained in the family. To keep the blood in the family, the adopted son may have married a daughter if available. If unavailable, the next generation could be formed by total strangers but they would continue the family line. Amassing a fortune in Japan was unrelated to demographic luck.

Widespread adoptions were not a peculiarity of Japan and this mechanism can also explain why East Asian societies were landowning peasant societies. China also had high rates of adoption in addition to equal distributions of land according to surveys from the 1930s. Perhaps more surprisingly, adoptions were common in ancient Europe where the Greeks and Romans practiced adoptions to secure heirs. For example, Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, was adopted. Adoptions were a natural means of keeping wealth under the control of the family.

Europe changed due to the church discouraging adoptions from the early middle ages, leading to adoptions becoming rarities by the 11th century. The church was partially motivated by theology but also by the possibility that heir-less wealth would get willed to the church. They almost certainly did not foresee that their policies would lead to greater wealth inequality during the subsequent eras.

 

Figure 1. Land Distribution under Differing Adoption Regimes and Impartible Inheritance

Kumon1

 

My study shows by simulation that a large portion of the difference in wealth inequality outcomes between east and west can be explained by adoption (see figure 1). Societies without adoption have wealth distribution that are heavily skewed with many landless households unlike those with adoptions. Therefore, family institutions played a key role in determining inequality which had huge implications for the way society was organized in these two regions.

Interestingly, East Asian societies still have greater equality in wealth distributions today. Moreover, adoptions still amount to 10% of marriages in Japan which is a remarkably large share. Adoption may have continued creating a relatively equal society in Japan up to today.

Did the Ottomans Import the Low Wages of the British in the 19th Century? An Examination of Ottoman Textile Factories (NR Online Session 4)

By Tamer Güven (Istanbul University)

This research is due to be presented in the fourth New Researcher Online Session: ‘Equality & Wages’.

 

Guven1
The Istanbul Grand Bazaar in the 1890s. Available at Wikimedia Commons.

Compared to the UK and Western Europe, there are a limited number of studies on wages and standards of living in the Ottoman empire. For the Ottoman empire the only source that can provide regular wage data for industry are the Ottoman state factories established in the 1840s to meet the needs of the state’s growing and centralized military and bureaucracy. Limitations in the sources of data are explained by the relative absence of industrial wage series in the monographies on Ottoman industrial institutions, and that manufacturing mainly comprised small manufacturers who did not keep records. This paucity in data may change as the Ottoman Archives become fully catalogued. The main aim of this study is to construct a wage series using the wage ledgers of those working in state factories. Consequently, I examined four prominent textile-related factories: Hereke Imperial Factory, Veliefendi Calico Factory, Bursa Silk Factory, and İzmit Cloth Factory. Only the Hereke Factory offers a 52-year wage series between 1848-1899. The data for the Veliefendi Factory started in 1848 but are disrupted in 1876 as the factory was transferred to military rule; the same applies to the İzmit Factory, which was established in 1844, but transferred to military rule in 1849.

I created two separate daily and monthly wage series to determine how many days workers worked per month and how this changed during the nineteenth century. Thus, not only the workers’ potential wages but also the workers’ observed monthly wages can be analysed. Some groups of workers were eliminated from the dataset for a variety of reasons. For example, civilian officials and masters working in factories were excluded because of their relatively high wages. Conversely, because of their relatively low wages, I also exclude carpet weavers —  mostly young girls and children.  I preferred to use median values for monthly wage series to include as many workers as possible in the analysis. As with much historical data, the wage series created in this study are incomplete. To overcome this I complement data for the Hereke Factory wage series with data from the  Veliefendi and Bursa Factories.

My results indicate that daily real wages increased by only by 0.03 per cent,  per annum,  between  1852 and 1899.  However, the real monthly wages of Hereke Factory workers rose by 0.11 per cent, per annum,  between 1848 and 1899, but by 0.24 per cent per annum using 1852 as a starting point.  Monthly wages increased faster than daily wages, but at the cost of more workdays for workers. Average workdays increased by 0.44 per cent, per annum over the span of the period. Although the Veliefendi Factory provides a narrower wage series from 1848 to 1876, it supports this pattern. Limited,  but prominent examinations of Ottoman wage history claim that construction, urban, and agricultural workers’ wages increased, albeit at different rates in the same period. How can we explain the increase in wages of other sectors when the wages of textile workers were stagnant?

Many observations on the Ottoman cities has shown that industrial production, particularly in the textile sector, shifted from urban to rural,  or from craft workshops to houses, to compete with cheap British yarn and fabric in the 19th century. According to my calculations, imports of Ottoman cotton yarn increased by a factor of 25 to 50 in the 19th century. This trend was most pronounced after the 1838 Anglo-Turkish Convention, when cheap English products were imported into the Ottoman Empire, and Ottoman producers sought cheaper labour.  Labour-saving machines both facilitated the export of  British yarns and fabrics to, and lowered wages in, the Ottoman empire.  Although the wage series for the Hereke factory,  and, to a more limited extent,  the Veliefendi factory provide evidence in support of this hypothesis, numerous studies on Ottoman industry in the 19th-century support the same argument, though without a wage series.

Women in the German Economy: A Long Way to Gender Equality (NR Session 4)

By Theresa Neef (Freie Universität Berlin)

This research is due to be presented in the fourth New Researcher Online Session: ‘Equality & Wages’.

 

Neef2
Scanned image of a mid-1930s postcard depicting Unter den Linden in Berlin. Available at Wikimedia Commons.

The wages of female employees in the European Union (EU-28) are, on average, about 84 per cent of the wages received by male employees. While some countries such as France, and Sweden, exhibit closer pay equality, women in Germany face a larger gap and receive just 79 per cent of the average male wage, according to the 2018 results from Eurostat 2020. How did this state of affairs emerge?

To understand contemporary pay inequality, it is vital to take a long-run perspective and look at the development of the gender pay ratio in Germany since 1913.  An in-depth analysis of historical inquiry reports and publications by the statistical offices reveals that in 1913 women in Germany earned around 44 per cent of male wages. Although  World War I led to a temporary increase in women’s pay in blue-collar occupations, this trend was soon reversed and the gender-segregated labour market was re-established following demobilization.

The interwar period brought about the most dynamic leap in gender relations during the 20th century. While in 1920 German women earned on average 45% of a man’s average pay, by 1937 this share had increased to 61%, a consequence of women’s occupational transition and the more progressive institutional framework adopted during the Weimar Republic.

With the growing number of white-collar jobs, young females had job opportunities that were better paid and more socially accepted than the work in low-paid domestic services or agriculture. That was an opportunity they took: from 1910 to 1960, women increased their share in those fast-growing occupations from 18% to 45%, while their share decreased in agricultural work. This trend most likely contributed to women’s wage gains relative to men.

During the Weimar Republic, a new constitution and a more progressive institutional framework fostered further equalization of earnings, especially in the white-collar occupations. In 1919, the Weimar constitution introduced compulsory schooling for all youths under 18 years irrespective of gender. For the first time, this law provided girls with the same chances to receive vocational education and an apprenticeship as their male peers. All youths that worked in commercial and industrial firms were obliged to attend vocational commercial school at least once a week for two to three years.  Before the introduction of this law, employers hardly invested in girls’ apprenticeships because women were seen as transient employees leaving the labour force upon marriage. This non-gendered schooling obligation led to a dynamic convergence of vocational training between boys and girls.

In the post-1945 period, the gender pay gap decreased in Germany from 65 percent in 1960 to 74 per cent  twenty years later. In contrast,  Sweden took the lead among European countries and by 1980, the gender pay gap was just 14 percentage points. However, since the 1980s, the gender pay gap has stagnated in many European countries.

 

Neef1
Figure 1: Gender pay ratio, Germany, Sweden, and the USA. Swedish and German series based on mean earnings; US-American time series based on median earnings if not indicated differently. The German time series covers Imperial Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany and reunified Germany (hollow items).

 

All in all, the long-run perspective shows that since the beginning of the 20th century Germany has persistently exhibited a lower gender pay equality than other European economies, such as Sweden, despite the important improvement observed in the interwar period. In the postwar period, the gap between Germany and Sweden widened further due to slower progress in the young Federal Republic. These results suggest that differences in gender pay inequality across countries can be traced back to historical roots that go beyond the developments in the past forty years.

Before the fall: quantity versus quality in pre–demographic transition Quebec (NR Online Session 3)

By Matthew Curtis (University of California, Davis)

This research is due to be presented in the third New Researcher Online Session: ‘Human Capital & Development’.


 

Curtis1
Map of East Canada or Quebec and New Brunswick, by John Tallis c.1850. Available at Wikimedia Commons.

While it plays a key role in theories of the transition to modern economic growth, there are few estimates of the quantity-quality trade-off from before the demographic transition. Using a uniquely suitable new dataset of vital records, I use two instrumental variable (IV) strategies to estimate the trade-off in Quebec between 1620 and 1850. I find that one additional child who survived past age one decreased the literacy rate (proxied by signatures) of their older siblings by 5 percentage points.

The first strategy exploits the fact that twin births, conditional on mother’s age and parity, are a random increase in family size. While twins are often used to identify the trade-off in contemporary studies, sufficiently large and reliable historical datasets containing twins are rare. I compare two families, one whose mother gave birth to twins and one whose mother gave birth to a singleton, both at the same parity and age. I then look at the probability that each older non-twin sibling signed their marriage record.

For the second strategy, I posit that aggregate, province-wide infant mortality rate during the year a younger child was born is exogenous to individual family characteristics. I compare two families, one whose mother gave birth during a year with relatively high infant mortality rate, both at the same parity and age. I then look at older siblings from both families who were born in the same year, controlling for potential time trends in literacy. As the two different IV techniques result in very similar estimates, I argue there is strong evidence of a modest trade-off.

By using two instruments, I am able to rule out one major source of potential bias. In many settings, IV estimates of the trade-off may be biased if parents reallocate resources towards (reinforcement) or away from (compensation) children with higher birth endowments. I show that both twins and children born in high mortality years have, on average, lower literacy rates than their older siblings. As one shock increases and one shock decreases family size, but both result in older siblings having relatively higher human capital, reinforcement or compensation would bias the estimates in different directions. As the estimates are very similar, I conclude there is no evidence that my estimates suffer from this bias.

Is the estimated trade-off economically significant? I compare Quebec to a society with similar culture and institutions: pre-Revolutionary rural France. Between  1628 and 1788, a woman surviving to age 40 in Quebec would expect to have 1.7 additional children surviving past age one compared to her rural French peers. The average literacy rate (again proxied by signatures) in France was about 9.5 percentage points higher than in Quebec. Assuming my estimate of the trade-off is a linear and constant effect (instead of just a local average), reducing family sizes to French levels would have increased literacy by 8.6 percentage points in the next generation, thereby eliminating most of the gap.

However, pre-Revolutionary France was hardly a human capital-rich society. Proxying for the presence of the primary educators of the period (clergy and members of religious orders) with unmarried adults, I find plausible evidence that the trade-off was steeper in boroughs and decades with greater access to education. Altogether, I interpret my results as evidence that a trade-off existed which explains some of the differences across societies.

 

Data Sources

Henry, Louis, 1978. “Fécondité des mariages dans le quart Sud-Est de la France de 1670 a 1829,” Population (French Edition), 33 (4/5), 855–883.

IMPQ. 2019. Infrastructure intégrée des microdonnées historiques de la population du Québec (XVIIe – XXe siècle) (IMPQ). [Dataset].Centre interuniversitaires d’études              québécoises (CIEQ).

Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH). 2019. Registre de la population du Québec ancien (RPQA). [Dataset]. Département de Démographie, Université de Montréal.

Projet BALSAC. 2019. Le fichier BALSAC. [Dataset]. L’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

Honest, sober and willing: Oxford college servants 1850-1939 (NR Online Session 3)

By Kathryne Crossley (University of Oxford)

This research is due to be presented in the third New Researcher Online Session: ‘Human Capital & Development’.


 

Crossley1
The library of Christ Church, Oxford from Rudolph Ackermann’s History of Oxford (1813). Available at Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Oxford colleges were among the earliest employers in England to offer organised pension schemes for their workers. These schemes were remarkable for several reasons: they were early, the first was established in 1852; they included domestic servants, rather than white-collar workers; and colleges were unlike typical early adopters of pension schemes, which tended to be large bureaucratic organisations, such as railways or the civil service.

The schemes developed from various motives: from preventing poverty in workers’ old age to promoting middle-class values, like thrift and sobriety, through compulsory savings.

Until the Second World War, college servants were often described as a ‘labour aristocracy’, and while there were many successful senior servants, equally there were many casual, part-time and seasonal workers. The experience of these workers provides an unusually detailed look at the precarity of working-class life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the strategies that workers developed to manage uncertainty, especially in old age.

My research uses a wide variety of archival sources, many previously unknown, from 19 Oxford colleges to consider why these colleges decided to overhaul servants’ pension provisions during this period, how retirement savings schemes were designed and implemented, and to try and understand what workers thought of these fundamental changes to the labour contract.

During this period, Oxford was a highly seasonal, low-waged economy. It was hard for many people to find enough work during the year to earn an adequate living, much less save for an old age they usually did not expect to see. Most men and women worked as long as they were capable, often past what we think of as a typical retirement age today.

It’s no surprise then that the protections against illness, disability, old age and death offered by these paternalistic employers encouraged a highly competitive labour market for college work, and the promise of an ex gratia, or traditional non-contributory pension, was one of the most attractive features of college employment.

For centuries, colleges awarded these traditional pensions to workers. Rights to these pensions, which usually replaced about a quarter to a third of a worker’s total earnings, were insecure and awards were made entirely at the discretion of the college.

In 1852, the first retirement savings scheme for Oxford college servants was created at Balliol College. By the 1920s, traditional non-contributory pensions had been replaced by contributory schemes at most Oxford colleges, shifting the risk of old age from employers to employees. Even though making contributions often meant a decrease in take-home pay, servants always preferred a guaranteed pension entitlement over traditional non-contributory pensions.

The earliest savings schemes mandated the purchase of life insurance policies. These were intended not only to protect a servant’s dependent family members, but also to limit the college’s financial liability in the event of a servant’s death. Servants were similarly risk-averse and often purchased multiple policies when they could afford to; many joined friendly societies and purchased insurance privately, in addition to employer-directed schemes.

The popularity of these schemes among Oxford colleges mirrors the growth of the insurance industry and the development of actuarial science during this period. By the 1870s, nearly all schemes included annuities or endowment assurance policies, which provided a guaranteed income for servants, usually at age 60-65, and facilitated the introduction of mandatory retirement ages for these workers.

Traditional paternalism remained influential throughout the period. Colleges insisted on controlling insurance policies, naming themselves as beneficiaries and directing the proceeds. Women, who were more likely to be in low-waged seasonal work, were nearly always excluded from these schemes and had to depend on ex gratia pension awards much longer than their male colleagues.

These early pension schemes offered no protection against inflation and colleges were usually slow to increase pension awards in response to rising prices. By the end of the Great War, dissatisfaction with inadequate pensions was one of several factors that pushed college servants to form a trade union in 1919.

 

Food Security, Trade and Violence: From the First to the Second Globalization in Colombia 1916-2016 (NR Online Session 2)

By Alexander Urrego-Mesa (Universitat de Barcelona)

This research is due to be presented in the second New Researcher Online Session: ‘Industry, Trade & Technology’


 

 

With world population forecasted at 9 billion by 2050, and climate change hazards, maintaining the capacity to provide food becomes paramount for national governments, especially in developing countries. After the Second War World and the Oil Crises, food aid and trade liberalisation helped to distribute food from surplus countries to those in deficit. (Dithmer, J., & Abdulai, A. 2017).

Nonetheless, some scholars suggest that trade liberalization and agro-export specialization threaten domestic food security in developing countries (Kumar Sharma, 2016), for the following reasons: it promotes increasing dependence on food exporters, increases vulnerability when confronting volatile agrarian prices, and jeopardizes domestic production by promoting agro-exports. Moreover, the rise of agrarian trade contributes to rising consumption of fossil-fuel-based inputs like nutrients, fuel, machinery, and intensifies the use of natural resources, thereby contributing to soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of biodiversity. (D’Odorico et al., 2014).

Nonetheless, little is known about how the relationship between trade, food availability, and food production has evolved. This research contributes to the food security debate at the national level by introducing a historic long-rung approach and comparing the two main periods of food trade, the First and the Second Globalization in a developing context.

 

Figure 1. Food trade balance (1916-2016)

Urrego-Mesa1
Note: Positive values indicate imports, negative values refer to exports, and the solid black line indicates net imports.

 

I analyse the long-run trend of food security in Colombia, a relevant developing country and one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. I build on data from the early 20th century to the present, on agrarian trade, food availability, and self-sufficiency (SS) -understood as the capacity of the agrarian system to meet domestic demand.

I find that the country shifted from tropical exporter to food-dependent importer between the First and Second Globalisations. However, this change has not led to setting tropical exports aside, but to an increase in the amount of food imported from abroad. New cash crops like tropical fruits and sugar cane took the role of coffee under the FMI’s structural reforms (Figure 1). In ecological terms, this meant a change towards more intensive farming in water, land, fuel, and the use of fertilisers.

Although the import of wheat and rice served to face food shortages at the end of the 1920s and in the early 1950s, importing maize has become the rule to guarantee the availability of food during the Second Globalization. This increase in imports allowed the gains in per capita consumption but eroded the SS capacity of the domestic agrarian system to provide food. On the other side, the long-rung agro-export specialisation led to increasing the capacity to supply international markets with tropical products (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2. Self-sufficiency index by groups of products

Urrego-Mesa2
Note: A result greater than one indicates the agrarian system is a domestic and international supplier of food, whereas a value less than one means the domestic consumption relies on imports.

 

Finally, I explore the role of international agrarian prices and political violence in shaping tropical specialisation and food dependence in the 1980s.  I find a negative relationship (-0.75) between the prices of cereals relative to tropical products (coffee, banana, sugarcane, and oil palm), and the trade balance. Regarding internal factors,  the self-sufficiency index and political violence are negatively correlated for cereals and pulses, and positively correlated for sugar cane.

Violence in Colombia contributes to land grabbing to develop agribusiness projects. It leads to the displacement of the labour force in the countryside. Thus, political violence is responsible for growing demand for food in cities and, at the same time, for the lack of capacity to provide it from the agrarian sector. If the evolution of relative prices is the incentive to deepen food dependence and tropical specialisation, violence is the means to achieve this.

 

 

References

Dithmer, J., & Abdulai, A. (2017). Does trade openness contribute to food security? A dynamic panel analysis. Food Policy, 69, 218-230.

D’Odorico, P., Carr, J. A., Laio, F., Ridolfi, L., & Vandoni, S. (2014). Feeding humanity through global food trade. Earth’s Future, 2(9), 458-469.

Kumar Sharma, Sachin (2016). The WTO and Food Security. Implications for Developing Countries. Singapore. Springer.

 


Alexander Urrego-Mesa

alex.urrego.mesa@ub.edu

@AlexUrrego3

 

Why is Switzerland so rich? The role of early electricity adoption (NR Online Session 2)

by Björn Brey (University of Nottingham)

This research is due to be presented in the second New Researcher Online Session: ‘Industry, Trade & Technology’


 

After its first commercial usage in 1879, Switzerland experienced a drastic increase in electricity production reflected in it having the highest per capita production in the world by 1900. During the same time period, Swiss GDP growth accelerated considerably compared with other industrialising countries (see Figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Real GDP per capita in 1990US$ across leading industrial countries from 1850-1970. 1879 reflects the first commercial usage of electricity in Switzerland.

Bjoern1
Source: Maddison Project Database, version 2018

 

In line with this observation, the diffusion of general-purpose technologies (such as the steam engine, electricity and information technologies) is seen as a main driver of economic growth at the global level. But much less is known about the local effect of adopting these technologies. This raises the question to which extend the early adoption of electricity contributed to industrialisation and economic development in the short and long run?

My research, to be presented at the annual conference of the Economic History Society in Oxford in April 2020, answers these questions by analysing the impact of the early adoption of electricity across Switzerland on economic development through exploiting the quasi-random potential to generate electricity from waterpower.

My study finds that the adoption of electricity between 1880 and 1900 considerably increased the contemporaneous manufacturing employment share. This initial effect persists up to today with the average district observing a 1.5% higher manufacturing employment share in 2011 due to the adoption of electricity up to 1900.

This effect of early electricity adoption on employment shares in agriculture, manufacturing and services in the long run is depicted in Figure 2. Notably, the growth in manufacturing employment observed can be attributed in particular to chemical industries, which relied on access to electricity for newly developed production processes.

This effect on economic development is also observable in incomes across districts with a one standard deviation higher exposure to electricity between 1880 and 1900 leading to a 1949 Swiss Francs ($2004) higher yearly median income in 2010.

 

Figure 2: Estimated IV-coefficients on the effect of a one horsepower increase in electricity production 1880-1900 on the change in the employment share across sectors from 1880 to the respective year as well as the pre-trend period 1860-1880.

Bjoern2

 

For the analysis, I newly digitised historic information on electricity production by waterpower plants across the whole of Switzerland and construct geocoded data on all potential waterpower plants that could be built as estimated by a plan of Swiss government engineers at the time.

These data are illustrated in Figure 3. Combining this information allows me to use the potential to produce electricity across districts to infer the causal impact of electricity adoption on economic development across Switzerland.

 

Figure 3: The map shows the exploited and potential waterpower in Switzerland in 1914. Blue-dots represent exploited waterpower, red-dots represent potential waterpower, both of existing natural sources and grey-dots represent existing and potential water-power plants that requires the building of an embankment dam. The sites are coded into 5 categories: 20-99HP, 100-999HP, 1000-4999HP, 5000-9999HP and above 10000HP.

Bjoern3

 

These results provide new insight into how early access to electricity at the end of the nineteenth century helps to explain differences in economic development today. Interestingly, the long-run effect of electricity appears not to be explained by persistent differences in electricity consumption across Switzerland after the roll-out of the electricity grid in the 1920s, but rather due to increased investment into education that was complementary to the newly industries that had newly developed.

 


 

 

 

 

The Impact of the Central African Federation on Industrial Development in Northern Rhodesia, 1953-1963 (NR Online Session 2)

By Mostafa Abdelaal (University of Cambridge)

This research is due to be presented in the second New Researcher Online Session: ‘Industry, Trade & Technology’


 

Northern Rhodesia joined Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Central African Federation (CAF), which lasted from 1953 to 1963 (Figure 1). During this period, two contrasting images were formed about the Federation’s economic prospects.   The first depicts the exploitation of the revenue surpluses of Northern Rhodesia in favour of Southern Rhodesia, (Figure 2). The second typifies Kitwe, one of the main mining-town in the Copperbelt in Northern Rhodesia, as the most rapidly developed town in terms of industrial and commercial sectors (Figure 3). My research examines whether the Federation stimulated or undermined manufacturing growth.

 

Figure 1: Map of the Central African Federation, 1953-1963

Mostafa1
Source:  Papers relating to Central African Federation [1952-1958], British Library, EAP121/1/3/16, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP121-1-3-16

This paper argues that, despite protests to the contrary, manufacturing in Northern Rhodesia grew rapidly under the Federal tariff and might be attributed to the natural protection for some industries against the high costs of transport goods from remote suppliers and to the Federal tariff against South Africa imports.

 

Figure 2.  Cartoon published by Central African Post mirroring one of the readers’ views on the Federation

Mostafa2
Source: Papers relating to Central African Federation [1952-1958], British Library, EAP121/1/3/16, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP121-1-3-16

Figure 3: Kitwe: A model of a mining town in the Copperbelt

Mostafa3
Source: NZA, ZIMCO,  1/1/3/ 10, From Mr Gresh the Managing Director of the Northern Rhodesia Industrial Development Corporation Ltd., to the Managing Director of Marcheurop, Brussels, 5th July 1962.

 

My research offers new insights into the rapid growth of the market in Northern Rhodesia. Specifically, to what extent did local industry respond to the mining-led economic expansion in Northern Rhodesia.  The first census of industrial production occurred in 1947, which provides a benchmark against which to measure growth rates before and during the Federal tariff system. Industrial production in Northern and Southern Rhodesia grew from 3.3 percent to 6 percent, and from 12 percent to 16.3 percent, respectively, between 1954 and 1963.  The net value added of manufacturing in Northern Rhodesia grew from less than £1 million in 1947 to £6.40 million in 1955, then it reached £12.68 million in 1963. Southern Rhodesia witnessed a significant increase in the net value added of manufacturing, from £20 million in 1953 to £50.2 million in 1963.

The composition of manufacturing output before and during the Federation reveals that rapid growth in Northern Rhodesia’s production of food, drinks, textiles, and chemicals — which constituted the majority of domestically manufactured goods (Table 2).

Table 2

Net value added of manufacturing output in Northern Rhodesia (£ million, nominal)

Sector/Year 1947 1955 1963
Food, drink and tobacco 0.20 1.56 5.13
Textiles, clothing, footwear 0.019 0.14 0.43
Metal engineering and repairs 0.082 a 1.58
Non-metallic minerals a a 1.83
Wood industries 0.21 0.46b 0.85
Building materials 0.010 c c
Transport equipment a 1.36 1.43
Printing and publishing 0.11 0.36 0.64
Others d 0.071 2.53 0.80
Total 0.710 6.40 12.68
a) Included in ‘others’

b) excluding furniture

c) building materials excluded from manufacturing sector since 1953.

d) includes manufacture of tobacco, made-up textiles other than apparel, furniture, retreading of tyres, chemicals, non-metallic minerals, metal industries other than transport equipment and other, not elsewhere specified (n.e.s.) in 1955, leather and rubber products, chemicals, pottery and other (n.e.s.) in 1963.

Sources: TNA CO 798/24, Blue Books of Statistics, 1947; NAZ, Monthly Digest of Statistics, Central Statistics Office, Lusaka, December 1955, 1964; Young (1973).

 

My research suggests a more nuanced interpretation is required of the importance of Northern Rhodesia to the South. The Federation curbed Northern Rhodesia’s development of specific industries that existed in Southern Rhodesia, especially steel and textiles, thereby disrupting the optimum allocation resources to industrial production in the South.

However, Northern Rhodesia’s net value added of manufacturing output benefited from the application of Federal tariffs in certain consumer industries that grew rapidly, such as processed foods and drinks. Consequently, the Federation was beneficial to the growth of manufacturing in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).

 


 

Mostafa Abdelaal

ma710@cam.ac.uk

How to solve the eternal credit problem? (NR Online Session 1)

By Ruben Peeters (Utrecht University)

This research is due to be presented in the first New Researcher Online Session: ‘Finance, Currency & Crisis’.


 

The decreasing numbers of new covid-19 cases in the EU has allowed governments to plan for restarting public and economic life. The plans often place a lot of emphasis on ensuring funding for SMEs. This is important because, while SMEs make up the majority of firms and are drivers of innovation and growth, they often have insufficient access to credit and are the first to suffer during crises. How can we solve this problem and what can leaders learn from history?

When studying the history of SMEs, we find recurrent complaints about insufficient access to credit. The contemporary literature on SME financing does not pay a lot of attention to the continuous resurfacing of problems. But why do these problems keep recurring? Why can financial systems not simply solve them?

I argue that while these complaints are all seen as indicating “SME funding problems”, they in fact often signal different problems, each of which requires a specific solution. To prove this point I study the history of Dutch SMEs between 1900 and 1940. During this period small firms associated in lobby-groups and attempted to identify and remedy small firms funding problems.

Picture 1
Interior of perfumery “Maison Rimmel” with sales woman behind the counter, Amsterdam 1913.  Source: Spaarnestad Foto, SFA002000477.

Looking at the financial landscape in the Netherlands at the turn of the twentieth century, small firms had several options to obtain debt funding, depending on the size of the loan and the type of collateral that firms could offer. Credit was not provided by joint stock banks as is usually the case today, but rather specialized local institutions, each having a different target audience or segment. A small firm with collateral needing a medium-size short term loan could go to a credit union. A small firm in need of a small short-term loan but lacking collateral could consult a Help Bank which accepted guarantors to secure the loan. And most firms made do with private savings, retained earnings, and trade credit.

The first thing that associations did was to improve the available information about small firms and small firms’ bookkeeping capabilities. This made it easier for firms to give an overview of their financial situation and reduce screening costs for financial institutions. Secondly, associations set up banks geared towards SMEs (middenstandsbanks), who provided small to medium size, short term loans. These banks received government subsidies to serve as wide a group as possible.

 

Picture 2
Branch of the Middenstandsbank of Limburg
Source: Yearly Report of the Middenstandsbank of Limburg, 1920
(Dutch National Archive: 2.25.68/9184)

Despite these initiatives, crisis situations created new problems that the middenstandsbanks were incapable of solving. During the First World War, suppliers suddenly wanted to be paid cash. Many small firms got into trouble and needed credit to pay suppliers and the middenstandsbanks demanded collateral, which many small firms did not have. The government stepped in and guaranteed the losses on these loans.

A similar situation occurred during the Great Depression when firms needed credit to survive the crisis, but financial institutions did not provide this. By then the Dutch government had control over the middenstandsbanking-system and they set up a patchwork of credit guarantees, each with its own target segment in terms of size, sector, or use. This ensured that viable firms, no matter how small or informationally opaque, had access to credit and that in case those firms grew, they could easily graduate into a higher segment. This system remained in place until the early 1970s and contributed to the post-war economic boom by ensuring credit to small firms, even when monetary policy was restrictive.

The elephant in the room was the position of the government. I found that in every example, the Dutch government was instrumental in getting the initiative off the ground and running through subsidies. The costs of providing affordable credit to informationally small firms are simply too high. Unfortunately, subsidies without oversight created multiple problems and situations of abuse and excessive risk-taking. These negative experiences made the Dutch government increasingly opt for more direct intervention in credit markets, with the guarantee system as the pinnacle.

This historical case study provides some ideas on what governments can do to help SMEs weather the Great Lockdown:

  1. Take action
  2. Design specific programs with the situation of the target group in mind
  3. Mentor small firms and help them prosper
  4. Provide government guarantees on loans funded with private money (This keeps down strains on government budgets)
  5. Align interests between the government and lenders, to prevent excessive risk-taking

Italy seems to be leading the way.[1]

 

Notes

[1] https://som.yale.edu/blog/italy-expands-and-updates-its-credit-guarantee-programs


Ruben Peeters

Twitter: @RLMPeeters

r.l.m.peeters@uu.nl

The international role of sterling before the EU: Britain operated a captive market for sterling (NR Online Session 1)

By Maylis Avaro (Graduate Institute, Geneva & University Libre de Bruxelles)

This research is due to be presented in the first New Researcher Online Session: ‘Finance, Currency & Crisis’.


 

Pre-EU sterling was of a zombie international currency, maintained by British authorities through threats and controls on the Commonwealth countries.

Avaro1
Queen Elizabeth II and the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth Nations, at Windsor Castle (1960 Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference) @wikicommons.

Post-Brexit Britain is looking for new partners to build new special relationships and replace EU single market. Eurosceptics from the Conservative party have urged the UK government to focus on the British Commonwealth[1]. But my research shows that pre-EU monetary relations between the UK and Commonwealth countries were built at the advantage of the British economy and investment in sterling assets inflict losses to Commonwealth central banks. Post-WWII international role  of sterling in the sterling area was artificially maintained by British authorities through capital controls, commercial threats and economic sanctions. Commonwealth countries fought to disentangle themselves from the UK economy and sterling. At the light of these new results, it seems difficult to make the sterling area rise from the ashes.

 

A zombie international currency

Sterling was the dominant international currency in the 19th century but lost it to the dollar over the course of the 20th century. Post-WWII, Western economies lost interest in sterling which remained mostly a regional currency, used in the sterling area – a network of countries tying their currencies to sterling, including most of Commonwealth, British Empire, and newly independent colonies.

The regionalization of sterling was immediate after the war, as reflected in its presence within central banks’ reserves portfolios displayed in Fig.1. In Western European central banks, sterling represented less than 20% of their reserves while sterling area countries kept more than 50% of their reserves in sterling throughout the fifties and sixties.

Avaro2
Figure 1: Shares of sterling in central banks’ reserves (gold + foreign exchange)
Reading: In 1955, sterling represented 89% of the official reserves of Overseas Sterling Area and 6% of the official reserves of Western Europe countries.
Source: see author’s working paper.

 

Countries who could access alternative foreign exchange reserves, such as Western Europe held only very limited amounts of sterling because the UK didn’t have the economic fundamentals of an issuer of international currency: its GDP per capita was growing slower than the rest of Europe, its share in world trade was going down, its central bank ran low reserves and it faced military defeats in its collapsing Empire.

 

The sterling area as a captive market

If sterling was a bad investment, why would Commonwealth and Middle East countries central banks keep most of their reserves in sterling? I argue that British authorities operated the sterling area countries as captive market for sterling. They artificially maintained holdings of sterling through capital controls, commercial threats and economic sanctions. Exiters of the sterling area, such as Egypt in 1947 or Iraq in 1959 faced a full freeze of their assets held in London, imposition of new tariffs or a limitation of access to the London capital market. Large sterling holders, such as Australia or Ireland tried to decrease their exposure to sterling by secretly converting some of their sterling reserves.

By preventing free convertibility out of sterling, British authorities could maintain an over-evaluation of sterling as the Bank of England ran very low reserves after the war. British policymakers described the sterling area as a bank with insufficient assets to meet its deposit liabilities. The area eventually collapsed after the 1967 sterling devaluation and Britain adhesion to EEC.

My study on the decline of sterling suggests that, at the time of Britain accession to the EEC, economic links with its former colonies had decreased dramatically, in spite of British efforts. Britain’s next ‘special relationship’ partners may not lie among them.

 

Notes

[1] “Theresa May to offer Commonwealth post-Brexit bonus” https://www.ft.com/content/2fbb7964-3e3c-11e8-b9f9-de94fa33a81e


 

Maylis Avaro

maylis.avaro@graduateinstitute.ch

Twitter: @M_Avaro

Website: maylisavaro.info