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Coercive contract enforcement: law and the labor market in nineteenth century industrial Britain

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  • Naidu, Suresh
  • Yuchtman, Noam

Abstract

British Master and Servant law made employee contract breach a criminal offense until 1875. We develop a contracting model generating equilibrium contract breach and prosecutions, then exploit exogenous changes in output prices to examine the effects of labor demand shocks on prosecutions. Positive shocks in the textile, iron, and coal industries increased prosecutions. Following the abolition of criminal sanctions, wages differentially rose in counties that had experienced more prosecutions, and wages responded more to labor demand shocks. Coercive contract enforcement was applied in industrial Britain; restricted mobility allowed workers to commit to risk-sharing contracts with lower, but less volatile, wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Naidu, Suresh & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "Coercive contract enforcement: law and the labor market in nineteenth century industrial Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91505, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:91505
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Labour relations & textiles: addenda
      by pseudoerasmus in Pseudoerasmus on 2017-09-27 05:01:55

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Hornbeck & Suresh Naidu, 2014. "When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 963-990, March.
    2. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2020. "Historical Natural Experiments: Bridging Economics and Economic History," NBER Working Papers 26754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2015. "The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    4. Tyrefors Hinnerich, Bjorn & Lindgren, Erik & Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2017. "Political Power, Resistance to Technological Change and Economic Development: Evidence from the 19th century Sweden," Research Papers in Economics 2017:5, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    5. Committee, Nobel Prize, 2016. "Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström: Contract Theory," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2016-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    6. Laeven, Luc & McAdam, Peter & Popov, Alexander, 2018. "Credit Shocks, Employment Protection, and Growth: Firm-level Evidence from Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 13026, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Douglas Hay, 2018. "Working Time, Dinner Time, Serving Time: Labour and Law in Industrialization," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _164, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    8. Eduard Marinov, 2016. "The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 6, pages 97-149.
    9. Danzer, Alexander M. & Grundke, Robert, 2020. "Export price shocks and rural labor markets: The role of labor market distortions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    10. Suresh Naidu & Yaw Nyarko & Shing-Yi Wang, 2014. "Worker Mobility in a Global Labor Market: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates," NBER Working Papers 20388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ran Abramitzky, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," NBER Working Papers 21636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. James J. Feigenbaum & Soumyajit Mazumder & Cory B. Smith, 2020. "When Coercive Economies Fail: The Political Economy of the US South After the Boll Weevil," NBER Working Papers 27161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Galor, Oded & Munshi, Kaivan & Wilson, Nicolas, 2013. "Inclusive Institutions and Long-Run Misallocation," MPRA Paper 51643, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Tyrefors, Björn & Lindgren, Erik & Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2017. "The Political Economics of Growth, Labor Control and Coercion: Evidence from a Suffrage Reform," Working Paper Series 1172, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 24 Sep 2019.
    15. Danzer, Alexander M. & Grundke, Robert, 2016. "Coerced Labor in the Cotton Sector: How Global Commodity Prices (Don't) Transmit to the Poor," IZA Discussion Papers 9971, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Evan Starr, 2019. "Consider This: Training, Wages, and the Enforceability of Covenants Not to Compete," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 72(4), pages 783-817, August.
    17. Masaki Nakabayashi, 2018. "From the substance to the shadow: the role of the court in Japanese labour markets," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 267-289, February.
    18. Aguirre, Alvaro, 2019. "Rebellions, Technical Change, and the Early Development of Political Institutions in Latin America," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 65-89.
    19. Ogasawara, Kota & Komura, Mizuki, 2020. "Consequences of War: Japan's Demographic Transition and the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 13885, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Timothy Halliday & Sumner La Croix, 2013. "Sons, Daughters, and Labor Supply in Early Twentieth-Century Hawaii," Working Papers 201318, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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