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Lifting the Curse of Dimensionality: Measures of the Labor Legislation Climate in the States During the Progressive Era

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  • Price V. Fishback
  • Rebecca Holmes
  • Samuel Allen

Abstract

One of the most difficult problems in the social sciences is measuring the policy climate in societies. Prior to the 1930s the vast majority of labor regulations in the U.S. were enacted at the state level. In this paper we develop several summary measures of labor regulation that document the changes in labor regulation across states and over time during the Progressive Era. The measures include an Employer-Share-Weighted Index (ESWI) that weights regulations by the share of workers affected and builds up the overall index from 17 categories of regulation; the number of pages of laws; appropriations for spending on labor issues per worker; and two nonparametric COORDINATES that summarize locations in a policy space. We describe the pluses and minuses of the measures, how strongly they are correlated, and show the stories that they tell about the changes in labor regulation during the progressive era. We then provide preliminary evidence on the extent to which the labor regulation measures are associated with political and economic correlates identified as important in histories of industrial relations and labor markets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14167.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14167

Note: DAE LE LS
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  1. Law, Marc T. & Kim, Sukkoo, 2005. "Specialization and Regulation: The Rise of Professionals and the Emergence of Occupational Licensing Regulation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(03), pages 723-756, September.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "The Rise of the Regulatory State," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1934, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Sanderson, Allen R., 1974. "Child-Labor Legislation and the Labor Force Participation of Children," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 297-299, March.
  4. Holmes, Rebecca Ann, 2005. "The Impact of State Labor Regulations on Manufacturing Input Demand During the Progressive Era," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 531-532, June.
  5. Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1998. "Strikebreaking and the Labor Market in the United States, 1881–1894," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 183-205, March.
  6. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1, May.
  7. Casey B. Mulligan & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Population and Regulation," NBER Working Papers 10234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:ucp:bkecon:9780226251288 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
  10. Price V. Fishback, 1998. "Operations of "Unfettered" Labor Markets: Exit and Voice in American Labor Markets at the Turn of the Century," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 722-765, June.
  11. Fishback, Price V., 2007. "Government and the American Economy," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226251271, June.
  12. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
  13. Marc T. Law & Mindy S. Marks, 2009. "Effects of Occupational Licensing Laws on Minorities: Evidence from the Progressive Era," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(2), pages 351-366, 05.
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Cited by:
  1. Stoian, Adrian & Fishback, Price, 2010. "Welfare spending and mortality rates for the elderly before the Social Security era," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, January.

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