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Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880


  • Jeremy Atack
  • Fred Bateman


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 Note: DAE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ronald D Lee & Andrew Mason & Tim Miller, 1998. "Saving, Wealth, and Population," Working Papers 199805, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
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    4. David, Paul A., 1977. "Invention and accumulation in america's economic growth: A nineteenth-century parable," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 179-228, January.
    5. Green, Alan & Urquhart, M. C., 1976. "Factor and Commodity Flows in the International Economy of 1870–1914: A Multi-Country View," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 217-252, March.
    6. Leff, Nathaniel H, 1969. "Dependency Rates and Savings Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(5), pages 886-896, December.
    7. Williamson,Jeffrey G., 1990. "Coping with City Growth during the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521364805, March.
    8. Hammer, Jeffrey S., 1986. "Population growth and savings in LDCs: A survey article," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 579-591, May.
    9. Neal, Larry, 1985. "Integration of International Capital Markets: Quantitative Evidence from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(02), pages 219-226, June.
    10. Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1979. "Inequality, Accumulation, and Technological Imbalance: A Growth-Equity Conflict in American History?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 231-253, January.
    11. M.C. Urquhart, 1988. "Canadian Economic Growth 1870-1980," Working Papers 734, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    12. Lewis, Frank D, 1983. "Fertility and Savings in the United States: 1830-1900," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 825-840, October.
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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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