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August 24, 2008

Economics 113 Syllabus: Fall 2008

Economics 113: American Economic History

This File: http://tinyurl.com/43sufu; http://delong.typepad.com/american_economic_history/2008/08/economics-113-s.html

J. Bradford DeLong delong@econ.berkeley.edu Evans 601: Lecture: 4 LeConte; MW 4-5:30

Andrej Milivojevic andrej@berkeley.edu: Sections: T4-5 87 Dwinelle, W8-9 61 Evans
Marc Gersen mgersen@econ.berkeley.edu: Sections: F2-3 55 Evans, F3-4 55 Evans
Matthew Sargent sargent@berkeley.edu: Sections: M9-10 85 Evans, Th1-2 45 Evans

For those unfamiliar with U.S. history, Marty Olney recommends John Faragher et al (2005), Out of Many (New York: Prentice-Hall)


Sections Aug 28-Sep 3: Welcome, supply and demand (one page introduction due)

W Sep 3: Amerindians, Conquistadores, Explorers, Settlers, and Empires

Sections Sep 4-10: Basic geography

M Sep 8: Colonists, 1600-1776

W Sep 10: Slavery and Its Legacy, 1600-1929

W Sep 10: Malthusian economy problem set due

Sections Sep 11-17: Who benefited from slavery?

M Sep 15: Government, 1600-1870

W Sep 17: Farms, 1600-1929

W Sep 17: Slavery benefit problem set due

Sections Sep 18-24: Review

M Sep 22: Review

W Sep 24: MIDTERM 1

M Sep 29: Technologies, Factories, and Trade, 1870-1929

W Oct 1: Workers, Unions, and Government, 1870-1929

W Oct 1: Growth accounting problem set due

Sections Oct 2-8: Quantity theory and gold standard problem set due

M Oct 6: Depressions and Panics, 1840-1933

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "Industrial Expansion and Concentration," Money, Prices, and Finance in the Post-Bellum Era," "The Great Depression"; ; Eugene White (1990), “The Stock Market Boom and the Crash of 1929,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 4:2 (Spring), pp. 67-83; Martha L. Olney (1999), “Avoiding Default: The Role of Credit in the Consumption Collapse of 1930.” Quarterly Journal of Economics CXIV (February 1999): 319-335. Christina Romer (1993) “The Nation in Depression.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 7 (Spring 1993): 19-39

W Oct 8: The New Deal, 1933-1941

W Oct 8: Monetary Economics problem set due

Sections Oct 9-15: Keynes and Bernanke

M Oct 13: World War II and Cold War, 1941-1956

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "World War II";

W Oct 15: Mass Production, 1910-1980

W Oct 15: Great Depression problem set due

Sections Oct 16-22: Marshall Plan and European reconstruction

M Oct 20: Workers, Unions, and Wage Compression, 1929-1975

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "The Rise of the Service Sector," "Unions"; Claudia Goldin and Robert A. Margo (1992), “The Great Compression”

W Oct 22: Focus on Women, 1870-present

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "The Changing Role of Women in the Labor Force"; Gavin Wright (1991), “Understanding the Gender Gap: A Review Article,” Journal of Economic Literature: 1153-63; Sue Bowden and Avner Offer (1994), “Household Appliances and the Use of Time” Economic History Review 47: 725-748; Claudia Goldin (2004) "The Long Road to the Fast Track" NBER WP 10331; Frances Willard Discovers the Bicycle

W Oct 22: Mass production and wage inequality problem set due

Sections Oct 23-29: Feminism

M Oct 27: Focus on African-Americans, 1900-present

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "Minorities"; J. Smith and Finis Welch (1989), "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," JEL (June), pp. 519-40, 557-61; Werner Troesken, “Race, Disease, and the Provision of Water in American Cities, 1889-1921,” Journal of Economic History 61 (September 2001): 750-776

W Oct 29: Focus on Immigrants, 1870-present

W Oct 29: Family immigration story 500 word paper due

Sections Oct 30-Nov 5: Intergenerational inequality models

M Nov 3: Stabilization, Full Employment, and Inflation, 1950-present

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "Money, Banking, and the Business Cycle After World War II"; J. Bradford DeLong (1996), “Keynesianism, Pennsylvania Avenue Style: Some Economic Consequences of the Employment Act of 1946,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1996, vol. 10, issue 3, pages 41-53

W Nov 5: Why Was America so Successful? Looking South

W Nov 5: Intergenerational inequality problem set due

Sections Nov 6-12: Review

M Nov 10: Review

W Nov 12: MIDTERM 2

Sections Nov 13-19: Alesina and the U.S.-Western Europe comparison

M Nov 17: Why Has There Been so Little Social Democracy in the United States? Looking East

W Nov 19: The End of the American Dream? The Productivity Slowdown and the Inflation of the 1970s

W Nov 19: U.S.-Latin America growth accounting problem set due

M Nov 24: The End of the American Dream? The Great Widening

Sections Nov 20-26: American political economy discussion

M Dec 1: The Crisis of Social Insurance: Pensions and Doctors

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Ronald Lee and Jonathan Skinner (1999), “Will Aging Baby Boomers Bust the Federal Budget?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 13 (Winter 1999): 117-140; David Cutler (2002), “Health Care and the Public Sector”

W Dec 3: The Productivity Speedup of the 1990s

  • Lecture Notes:
  • Required Readings: Walton and Rockoff, "Achivements of the Past, Challenges for the Future"; Paul David (1990), “The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox,” American Economic Review, pp. 355-60; Blinder and Yellen, The Fabulous Decade

W Dec 3: 1500 word paper due

Sections Dec 4-10: New economy models

M Dec 8: Resources, Suburbs, Global Warming: Limits?


W Dec 10: New economy problem set due

Th Dec 18: FINAL EXAM 8-11AM


Conversation bounced around a lot from Spanish Armadas to a 15th-century Nepalese University, but it never ceased being interesting. What I found most interesting was the justification for increased workload given the value of our education. I heard good things about 101b last semester from three friends who took it with you, so I'm excited for 113! I hope as a Political Science/South and Southeast Asian Studies major I'm not taking quantum physics haha.

-Colin Campbell, 17987430

Hey Professor DeLong, I really enjoyed our first class today. One of the reasons I found your lecture interesting because you talked about issues that were relevant to every student today, like the idea of California taxpayers subsidizing our education. I'm really excited for this class!

My name is pierre mouillon and i am from paris france. I am a senior peis major and hopefully i will be graduating in may, which might not be such a good thing after hearing your very pessimistic predictions in today's lecture for those graduating this year. I am taking this course because it satisfies the historial economic context for my major. I am looking forward to taking this course because i am curious to see how economic models can be linked to historical context.

Today's class gave a good overview for what the semester will be like and what is expected of us as students. A little hard to follow at times because of the digressions, but at least they were interesting.

I have been curious to see whether or not the benefits of having a college education outweigh the costs. What tools can we use to measure these two quantities? Also, as there are many more students attending college today, does this lower benefit per capita, or in other words, can we consider the benefit of a college education as a zero sum gain? I am looking forward to all the interesting topics we will cover and working hard.

I thought today's lecture was more engaging than most introductory lectures just because you spoke about us students. In particular, about those who support the educational system and how we in return have the capability to reinvest in the system that brought us up. I thought this was the most interesting topic because it is more personal. I look forward to the rest of the material. I had no idea that this class would cover such an extensive period; I had the impression that an economics history course would cover no more than a few centuries of American economic history and exclude the very earliest influences on American soil.

Greetings Professor Delong!

This summer I spent some time reading through Sohail Inayatullah's The University in Transformation, and was, as a result, highly interested in your discussion on the role of the university. Seeing as how you outlined the place of the university in the past and present, I'm interested in hearing your take on its role in the future. With the virtualization of education in some regards becoming more imminent, is education as we see it today (bricks-mortar and a distinguished faculty) bound for extinction? More specifically, are the costs associated with maintaining a physical campus and a prestigious faculty (a problem you highlighted in public education) proving unsustainable by estimates today? Finally, what changes to the professoriate and the worth of a college education can we expect to see if either question is answered affirmatively?

Michael Pimentel

I appreciated that you spoke about how our education at Berkeley is subsidized by the state because we are meant to make contributions that better society as a whole. Sadly, many students forget that this is the fundamental purpose of a receiving a college education.

I was intrigued that the exorbitant cost of movable type was responsible for structuring university education around lectures. Good story!

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