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Economics 375. American Economic History Prof. Kenneth Ng [email protected] Books to buy. Textbook--Attack and Passel, A New Economic View of American Economic History. Paul Johnson, A History of the American People. Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America.

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economics 375

Economics 375

American Economic History

Prof. Kenneth Ng

[email protected]

books to buy
Books to buy
  • Textbook--Attack and Passel, A New Economic View of American Economic History.
  • Paul Johnson, A History of the American People.
  • Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America.
  • Robert Fogel, Without Consent or Contract.
  • William McNeil, Plagues and Peoples.
  • Other readings available online at or in the Reserve Book Room of Oviatt Library.
administrative details
Administrative Details
  • Class website:
    • Reading List.
    • Exam Archive.
    • Assignments.
    • Slides from lectures.
      • Slides will be updated immediately following class.
    • Grade Roster.
  • Listserv: [email protected]
    • Register email address at
    • Use the listserv to contact other class members.
  • Grades will be based on series (4 or 5) of exams and/or take home writing assignments.
    • Samples on
  • Each major section of the course will be followed by an assignment.
  • As an upper division elective, the grading scheme used in business core classes will be abandoned.
  • Anticipated grade distribution:
    • 20% A’s
    • 30% B’s
    • 30% C’s
    • 20%-D, F’s, failed to drop, did take exams or turn in assignments, etc.
course objectives
Course Objectives
  • Course mostly about the contributions of the “New Economic History” or Cliometrics-demonstration of the power of economic reasoning and statistics properly applied to historical questions.
  • Actually not that new. Began in the late 1960’s w/economists applying economic theory and modern statistical techniques to questions traditionally addressed solely by historians.
  • Rather than relying on traditional primary sources—journals, letters, and other personal writings, the New Economic History relies on quantitative data-numbers.
  • Dovetails with the Social History Movement in historical research.
  • The Social History Movement attempted to understand the life of the common man. Previously, historians had concentrated their efforts on understanding the lives and decisions elites.
  • Application of economic theory has overturned or substantially modified many dearly held central tenets of traditional historians.
    • Because of lag between research and dissemination and because many of the new findings are not politically correct, they have not filtered down to high school history classes.
  • Recently acknowledged by the award of the Nobel Prize to Robert Fogel and Douglas North in 1993.
course objectives 2
Course Objectives (2)
  • Will seek answers to the following questions:
    • Why are we rich?
      • The causes of economic growth in the United States.
    • Why do we live so long?
      • The causes of extended life
    • Why do people want to come here?
      • Causes of immigration.
      • Experience of immigrants in the U.S.
    • Why has government become so large?
  • Show how the New Economic History has changed our understanding of the past.
    • The Civil War, Slavery, and Race Relations.
  • Possible Bonus Subject: The Changing Role of Women in the United States.
      • How have the events above effected the life of women in the United States?
course objectives 3
Course Objectives (3)
  • Introduction to graduate level economic research
    • Will read a variety of professional journal articles.
    • Will see how graduate level research is written and produced.
  • Teach how knowledge is produced through academic debate.
    • Tutorial on how science is conducted in the real world.
    • How the propagation of theories with testable hypotheses are put forward and tested using historical data.
    • Examine how several debates in economic history have unfolded.
    • Interplay between ideology, theory, data, and debate.
    • Just because ideology is involved does not mean that scientific debate is just he said/she said. There is a difference between argument between your mom and intellectual debate.