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Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880

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  • Jeremy Atack
  • Fred Bateman

Abstract

After sketching various ways in which economic issues influenced the political realignment of the 1850s, the paper concentrates on five questions: (1) the timing of the economic issues and the disjunctions in economic developments across regions and classes; (2) the size of the nonagricultural male labor force of the North toward the end of the 1850s and the ethnic and residential distributions of these workers; (3) changes in the ethnic composition of the northern electorate and the sharp shift in the partisan affiliations of "Old Americans," especially between 1852 and 1860; (4) problems in measuring the ups and downs in the standard of living of northern nonagricultural workers between 1840 and 1860 and provisional estimates of the decline in their real wages between 1848 and 1855; (5) a provisional estimate of the excess supply of labor during 1854-1855 created by the unfortunate phasing of three cycles (the collapse of a long cycle in construction, the coincident trough of a relatively mild trade cycle, and the continued upswing of a long cycle in immigration).

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1991. "Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880," NBER Historical Working Papers 0033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0033
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    Cited by:

    1. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2003. "Productivity in manufacturing and the length of the working day: evidence from the 1880 census of manufactures," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 170-194, April.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Allard Dembe, 2009. "Ethical Issues Relating to the Health Effects of Long Working Hours," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 195-208, January.

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