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A Curse of ‘Point Source’ Resources? : Cash Crops and Numeracy on the Philippines 19th-20th Century

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  • BASSINO, Jean-Pascal
  • BATEN, Joerg

Abstract

Does the shift from subsistence agriculture to a specialization in cash-crop production affect human capital? We assess the influence of the rapid expansion of the cultivation of cash crops for export in the mid and late 19th century Philippines, with a focus on the increase or decline of basic numeracy. Based on the historiography, we expect the expansion of cash crops (in 19th century Philippines, mostly abacá, sugar, and tobacco) to have a negative effect on human capital of the majority of the population during the first phase. To test this hypothesis, we mobilize a new and large data set based on age statements from parish records, which includes 228,853 underlying observations. This is the first long term quantitative study on numeracy in a Southeast Asian country. We aggregate the individual observations by 41 provinces and the birth decades from the 1800s to the 1930s in order to obtain a large and informative panel (panel observations based on less than 50 underlying age statements are dropped). This allows us to compare regional levels of numeracy before, during, and after the introduction of the three main cash crops.

Suggested Citation

  • BASSINO, Jean-Pascal & BATEN, Joerg, 2016. "A Curse of ‘Point Source’ Resources? : Cash Crops and Numeracy on the Philippines 19th-20th Century," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-22, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-22
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    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/27756/1/070_hiasDP-E-22.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bassino, Jean-Pascal & Coclanis, Peter A., 2008. "Economic transformation and biological welfare in colonial Burma: Regional differentiation in the evolution of average height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 212-227, July.
    2. Bassino, Jean-Pascal & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2015. "From Commodity Booms to Economic Miracles: Why Southeast Asian Industry Lagged Behind," CEPR Discussion Papers 10611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Jean-Pascal Bassino & Marion Dovis & John Komlos, 2015. "Biological Well-Being in Late 19th Century Philippines," NBER Working Papers 21410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Resnick, Stephen A., 1970. "The Decline of Rural Industry Under Export Expansion: A Comparison among Burma, Philippines, and Thailand, 1870–1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 51-73, March.
    5. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
    6. Crayen, Dorothee & Baten, Joerg, 2010. "Global trends in numeracy 1820-1949 and its implications for long-term growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 82-99, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cash crops; human capital; numeracy; age heaping; Philippines; sugar; abaca;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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