Introduction and analysis American economic development from a historical perspective, focusing on the trajectory of American economic development from recent advances in theoretical and empirical literature. Covers topics on long-term economic growth, technological advances, business cycles and fluctuations, financial market, labor market, and economic impacts of social change. Prerequisite: Admission to MA program in Economic. Units: 3.0.
This is a graduate level course on American economic history. The course takes a context-specific approach to economic applications. The course begins with a brief overview and introduction to American history from an economics perspective. Then we explore topics that played major roles in shaping the historical path of American economy. Drawing from latest research in both empirical and theoretical economics literature, this course will equip students with an understanding of American economic development through rigorous economic analysis.
More specifically, by completing this course, students are expected to:
Achieve fundamental understanding of the history of American economic development and the impact of historical events on the American economy
Apply economic theory and quantitative skills to analyze the historical event from an economic perspective.
Develop skills to synthesize and critically evaluate economic analyses using empirical evidence in a historical context.
The required course material contains a series of journal articles, available on SacCT. You will need a SacLink ID to access the course website. Please see below for the tentative reading list. I may also change the reading list if appropriate journal articles appear during the semester.
If you would like to have a textbook as a reference, a good textbook at this level is:
Atack, Jeremy and Peter Passell. A New Economic View of American History. Second Edition W. W. Norton and Company 1994.
Note that the textbook is not required.
I will also post the outline of the class material on SacCT.
Evaluation and Grading System
Students are evaluated based on two exams, one data analysis project, one term paper and one in-class presentation. The following provides a brief description to each item.
There will be one midterm and a final. The exams will contain essay questions. Each question will be on a broad topic and students are expected to organize and synthesize the information from class, rather than just repeat the lectures.
Tentative midterm date: 3/16
The data project will ask you to analyze a dataset, which will be available on SacCT. You will be asked to summarize the data, observe the pattern and use regression techniques to perform the analysis. In addition, you also have to link your observations to historical events. You are welcome to use any statistical package to analyze the data, but I will be able to help you if you use STATA.
Students will choose two papers among the articles with an asterisk (*) from the reading list below and present these papers in class. These articles are usually interesting and relatively recent. Before the presentation, I will introduce the general topic to provide background information. The presentation will last for about 30 to 45 minutes, and each presentation should cover at least the following elements:
The historical background of the topic
The issue and the theoretical prediction
Description of data
Result of the empirical analysis
Critiques and suggestions for further research
Students are also expected to participate in the discussion after each presentation. You will need to send me the PowerPoint presentation and meet with me a week prior to your presentation so we can go over the details.
The term paper asks students to write a review article on a topic in American economic history. The paper may be based on the topic the student presented in class. However, students are also encouraged to search for a topic of their choice and review the relevant literature. Students will be required to submit the topic of their choice no later than week 10. The article has to synthesize at least 5 original research articles and should be 7-10 pages long.
Grading Schedule :
One data project
Academic honesty is expected. You will receive a mark of zero on any work (including exams) where cheating occurs. Please make sure you read the University Policy on Academic Honesty: http://www.csus.edu/admbus/umanual/UMA00150.htm There is also a useful student tutorial on this issue: http://library.csus.edu/content2.asp?pageID=353
There will be no make-ups on any of the graded assignments or exams unless you have a valid written excuse (such as medical emergency). Missed assignments and exams will count as zero towards your final grade.
Attendance is highly recommended. If you miss a class, be sure to check with your fellow classmates, and the course web page to see what material you missed.
I will do my best to respect everyone, and I hope you do the same to your fellow colleagues, especially since everyone will present in this class. Please minimize disturbances (such as cell phone ringers.)
If you have a disability and require accommodations, you need to provide disability documentation to SSWD, Lassen Hall 1008, (916) 278-6955. Please discuss your accommodation needs with me after class or during my office hours early in the semester.
Weekly Course Outline and Tentative Reading List
Week 1-Week 4:
Economics Review and An Overview of American Economic History (4 lectures)
Week 1: Economics Review
Lecture notes on producer theory, profit maximization, and factor markets.
Week 2: Colonial and Antebellum America
Nettels, C. P. (1952) British Mercantilism and the Economic Development of the Thirteen Colonies. Journal of Economic History 12, 105-14
Wright, G. (2003) Slavery and American Agricultural History. Agricultural History 77, 527-552.
Sachs, J. D., and Warner, A.M. (2001). The Curse of Natural Resources. European Economic Review 45, 827–38.
Wright, G., and Czelusta, J. (2004). The Myth of the Resource Curse. Challenge, 6-36.
*Libecap, G. (2009) Chinatown Revisited: Owens Valley and Los Angeles—Bargaining Costs and Fairness Perceptions of the First Major Water Rights Exchange. Journal of Law, Economics and Organization 25, 311-338.
*Allen, Robert C. (2014) American Exceptionalism as a Problem in Global History. Journal of Economic History 74, 309-350.
Week 15: Economic Inequality in 20th Century America
*Goldin, C. and Katz, L. F. (1998) The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity. Quarterly Journal of Economics 113, 693-732.