International Society for Quantitative History

QH Webinar Series

Structural Change, Elite Capitalism, and the Emergence of Labor Emancipation

09:00 | Thursday, March 24, 2022

Zoom Webinar

English

Quamrul H. Ashraf

Quamrul H. Ashraf

Halvorsen Professor for Distinguished Teaching and Research of Economics, Williams College

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Quamrul Ashraf, of Williams College, and his co-authors study a novel mechanism for the emergence of labor emancipation – one in which the material incentives of elites in society play an instrumental role. They propose that the decline of coercive labor institutions in the course of industrialization has partly been driven by complementarity between physical capital and free workers in the production process. In light of the costly enforcement of labor effort in non-manual industrial tasks, as well as the nascent significance of skills for the returns to physical capital, the capitalist elites relinquished their previously profitable coercion of labor out of self-interest. By reducing wage expropriation, they incentivized workers to increase effective labor and potentially also acquire skills, thus fostering the short- and long-run returns to physical capital for the elites.

In this Quantitative History Webinar, Quamrul Ashraf explains the evidence they uncover in line with this hypothesis: based on plausibly exogenous variation in proto-industrialization across regions of nineteenth-century Prussia, the initial abundance of elite-owned physical capital contributed to (i) the subsequent intensity of serf emancipation, (ii) the elites’ willingness to accept emancipation at lower redemption payments, and (iii) the employment of skilled workers in manufacturing, amongst other outcomes related to general human capital.

Quamrul's co-authors: Francesco Cinnirella (University of Bergamo), Oded Galor (Brown University), Boris Gershman (American University), and Erik Hornung (University of Cologne)

Discussant: Yiling Zhao, Assistant Professor, Peking University School of Economics

Live on Zoom on March 24, 2022
9:00 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore
10:00 Tokyo | 12:00 Sydney
Previous Day 18:00 Los Angeles | 21:00 New York/Williamstown

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Zoom Webinar

Quamrul H. Ashraf

English

The Quantitative History Webinar Series aims to provide researchers, teachers, and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The Series, now in its third year, is co-organized by the International Society for Quantitative History, HKU Business School, and Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 量化歷史網上講座系列由香港大學陳志武和馬馳騁教授聯合發起,旨在介紹前沿量化歷史研究成果、促進同仁交流,推廣量化方法在歷史研究中的應用。本系列講座由國際量化歷史學會、香港大學經管學院和香港人文社會研究所全力支持和承辦。

Conveners: Professor Zhiwu Chen & Dr. Chicheng Ma (HKU Business School)

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