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Economics 375. American Economic History Prof. Kenneth Ng 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

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:

    • 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.