Economics 356/ History 356 Fall 2011 Development of the U. S. Economy Prof. Leonard Carlson

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Economics 356/ History 356 Fall 2011
Development of the U.S. Economy Prof. Leonard Carlson

This course surveys the economic history of the United States from the colonial period to 1980’s. We will consider the development of the U.S. economy as an example of how a country undergoes modern economic growth. We will pay special attention to the events of the 1920’s and 1930’s and the role of government in the 1920’s and in the New Deal of the 1930’s in light of current events. In general we will consider factors that lead to economic growth, what are the benefits and problems that may result? Among things we will look at: the colonial origins of the U.S. economy, the economics of the American Revolution, the development of the banking system; business cycles and depressions (the Great Depression of 1929-1933 will be considered in depth); the rise of public education, the rise of big business; the origins and effect of increased government regulation; and significant changes in the U.S. economic system since World War II.

Prerequisite: Econ 101 and 112

Office: 306F Rich; Phone: 404-727-6375; e-mail:

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 2:30-4:00 p.m. and by arrangement.

E-communications: There is a LearnLink conference, Blackboard conference, and e-reserves in the library for this course. Most of the articles mentioned below are available on line at reserves for this course. I will send announcements for the class to you via Learnlink.

Please, No electronics in class (computers, cell phones, etc). If you have a pressing need to use these in class, please see me and you can sit in a special section.


Walton and Rockoff, History of the American Economy, Eleventh Edition, South-Western, Thompson Learning Corp., 2010 (referred to below as Walton and Rockoff).

Recommended/on reserve

Atack and Passell, A New Economic View of American History Second Edition, New York, Norton, 1994. (Referred to below and Atack and Passell) Some topics I will cover in class come from this book.

Honor Code: The Honor Code is taken seriously in the class. It applies to all tests and homework assignments. If you have questions about the rules covering a given assignment, ASK ME.



Weight in Final Grade

First Midterm exam

October 7 (Friday)


Second Midterm exam

November 11 (Friday)


Short Essays


Final Exam

Wednesday, December 16, 8:30-11:00 am

35 %

Attendance: I will pass out an attendance sheet at each class. If you miss no more than three classes you will receive a bonus points added to your final grade. There will be no excused absences for the purpose of calculating the bonus.

Missed Exam: No make up exam is given. If you a must miss an exam for a very good reason, please contact me prior to the exam. Failure to do so may result in a failing grade. For an excused absence the final will be weighted more heavily in place of the missed exam.

Expected Conduct

 I will come to class prepared to teach the material you need to learn in this course.

 I will make every effort to arrive on time, begin class on time, and release you on time.

 I will answer your questions to the best of my ability and respond in a timely fashion should I not immediately know the answer.

 I will hold regular office hours and be available to answer your questions.


 You are expected to arrive on time and prepared for class. (Late arrival disturbs everyone and will not be allowed.)

 Please turn off your phones and all other electronics before you enter class.

Please be quiet during class so that others may hear what is going on.

 Be attentive and take detailed notes.

 Look over the assigned material before class, and read it carefully after class.

 Do the assigned homework problems on a regular basis. Economics requires gradual learning.

 Please discuss with me any problems you may have in the course or any suggestions to improve the course.

Blackboard: Blackboard is a communication medium used to make announcements,

distribute handouts and lectures, post reading material, collect assignments, and record

and distribute grades. To get to the Blackboard main page, go to: and then use your email ID and Password to log in and select

our course. If you cannot log in, you may contact for help. There

are several navigation buttons on the left that we will use to organize and classify

information. Among these are:

 Announcements – used to make various announcements. Please read this section regularly.

 Course Documents – used to post the syllabus, lecture presentations, and assignments.

 Discussion Board – This will be used to post comments and conduct virtual discussion. The board will be divided into several sections, each devoted to a particular discussion; for example, Administrative, Reading-Related, and Homework-Related.

 Additional Reading – used to post non-textbook reading material (supplementary readings)
Topics and Reading Assignments

This outline may be changed as we go along

Week Number & Date

Topics and Textbook Assignments

On-line assignments are at

1. Aug 24-26

Introduction, European Settlement of the Americas

* Walton and Rockoff, ch. 1

* Easterlin, “The World Wide Standard of Living Since 1800,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, (Winter 2000)

*DeLong, “Cornucopia: The Pace of Economic Growth in the 20th Century,” NBER working paper 7602 March, 2000.**

Atack and Passell, Intro., ch. 1

2. Aug 29-Sept. 2

Institutions and Economic Growth: A comparative perspective.

*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 2-5

David Galenson, "The Rise and Fall of Indentured Servitude: An Economic Analysis," Journal of Economic History (March 1984). W&B JS**

Engerman and Sokoloff, “Factor Endowments, Institutions and Differential Growth Paths of Growth Among New World Economies” in Haber (ed) How Latin America Fell Behind, also NBER working paper No. h0066 **

Yeager, Timothy J., “Encomienda or Slavery? The Spanish Crown’s Choice of Labor Organization in Sixteenth Century Spanish America, “ Journal of Economic History, vol. 55, no. 4, Dec. 1995, pp. 842-859. JS**

*Atack and Passell, ch. 2

Sept. 5

Labor Day

3. Sept. 7-9

Economics of the Revoultion

*Atack and Passell, ch. 3.

*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 6,

Egnal and Ernst, "An Economic Interpretation of the American Revolution," William and Mary Quarterly, (January, 1972)

4. Sept. 12-16

The Constitution and the New Republic

*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 7

McGuire and Ohsfeldt, "Economic Interests and the American Constitution: A Quantitative Rehabilitation of Robert Beard," Journal of Economic History, vol. 44, June 1984,

Week Number & Date

Topics and Textbook Assignments

On-line assignments are at

5. Sept. 19 – 23


*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 7

*Atack and Passell, ch. 9,10.

Carlson, “Were there alternatives to disaster? The Removal of Indians from the southeastern United States in the 1830’s” in Engerman and Metzer (eds) Land Rights, ethno-nationality, and sovereignty in history

Oct. 7 (Friday)


6. Sept. 26 – 30

Money, Banks and the Financial SystemSystem

*Atack and Passell, ch. 4.

*Walton & Rockoff, ch. 12

Richard Sylla "U.S. Securities Markets and the Banking System, 1790-1840" St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank REVIEW, MAY/JUNE 1998 Vol. 80, No. 3, on line.**

Sylla, “Reversing Financial Reversals,” pp. 115-134, in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

7. Oct. 3-7


*Walton & Rockoff, ch. 10,11

Oct. 10-11

Fall Break

8. Oct 12 – 14

Demographic Changes and Immigration

Atack and Passell,

Walton & Rockoff,

9. Oct. 17 – 21

The southern economy and The the Civil War

*Walton & Rockoff, ch. 13-14

*Atack and Passell, ch. 13.

.Wright, "The Economic Revolution in the American South," Journal of Econ Perspectives (Summer 1987)

10. Oct. 24-28

NORTHERN Agriculture and FARM Discontent The Spread of the Railroad and Development of a National Market

*Walton & Rockoff, ch 15,16.

Atack and Passell, ch. 16.

11. Oct.. 31 Nov. 4

The Growth of the National Market and the Rise of Big Business

*Walton & Rockoff, ch17,18 20.

*Atack and Passell, ch. 17.

Week Number & Date

Topics and Textbook Assignments

On-line assignments are at

12. Nov. 7-11

The Money Supply and the Financial System

*Walton & Rockoff, ch 19.

Sylla, “Reversing Financial Reversals,” pp. 134-137, in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

*Atack and Passell, ch. 18.

Nov. 11 (Friday)


13. Nov. 14 – 18

The Progressive Era, World War I and the 1920's

*Walton & Rockoff, ch 21, 22

Fishback, “The Progressive Era,” ch. 10 in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

Sylla, “Reversing Financial Reversals,” pp. 137-139,” in in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

14. Nov 21-23

The Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression

*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 23.

*Atack and Passell, ch. 21.

Friedman and Schwartz, “Factors Accounting for Changes in the Stock of Money,” ch. 18 in Whaples and Betts, Historical Perspectives on the American Economy.

*Romer, "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1993, pp. 19-40.

Temin, “Transmission of the Great Depression,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1993, pp. 87-102.

Bernake, “Nonmonetray Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Derpession,” American Economic Review,

Olney, “Avoiding Default: The Role of Credit in the Consumption Collapse of 1930,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, (Feb. 1999)

Nov. 24


Week Number & Date

Topics and Textbook Assignments

On-line assignments are at

15. Nov. 28-Dec. 2

Post War to the new millenium

The American Century”: 1946-1990

Financial system:

Bretton Woods and its decline


*Nelson and Wright, "The Rise and Fall of American Technological Leadership: The Postwar Era in Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature (Dec. 1992), pp. 1931-1964,

The Labor Market in long run perspective

*Walton & Rockoff, ch26-29.

*Atack and Passell, ch. 19.

Wright, “Understanding the Gender Gap: A Review Article,” Journal of Economic Literature, (Sept. 1991).

*Goldin, "The Changing Economic Role of Women," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, (1983)

*Goldin, “The Human Capital Century” Journal of Economic History, (June 2001).

Goldin and Katz, “The Shaping of U.S. Higher Education,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, (Spring 2000)

Goldin, Katz, Kuziemko, “The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, (Fall, 2006). 131-156.

Easterlin, "American Population Since 1940," in Feldstein (Ed), The American Economy in Transition, pp. 275-321,

Margo, “The Government and the American Dilemma” in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

*Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez, “Top Incomes in the Long Run of History,” Journal of Economic Literature 2011, 49:1, 3–71

The Rise of Big Government Programs after World War II

*Walton and Rockoff, ch. 26

Fishback, “Seeking Security in the Post War Era,” ch. 17 in Fishback, (et al), Government and the American Economy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2007.

*Atack and Passell, ch. 23.

Freeman, "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private and Public Unionism in the U.S.," Journal of Economic Perspectives, (Fall 1988).

16. Dec. 5

Concluding Thoughts

Dec. 12 8:30-11:00am


Final Exam

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