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The Price of Housing in New York City, 1830-1860

  • Robert A. Mareo

Dissatisfaction with the high transaction costs of compensating workers for their injuries led seven states in the 1910s to enact legislation requiring that employers insure their workers' compensation risks through exclusive state insurance funds. This paper traces the political-economic history of the success of compulsory state insurance in three states in the 1910s -- Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington. State insurance gained broad support in these states because a coalition of progressive legislators took control of their respective legislatures, bringing with them the idea that government had the unique ability to correct market imperfections. The political environment in which state insurance thrived in the 1910s provides important insights into the growth of government in the 1930s and 1960s. The major social insurance programs of the New Deal and the Great Society were widely supported at the time because the private market was seen as unable to solve a particular problem, such as unemployment compensation or poverty in old-age. This paper argues that the government's dramatic expansion after the 1932 federal election was not unprecedented; in fact, the ideological roots of New Deal activism were planted during the debates over compulsory state insurance and workers' compensation in the 1910s.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0063.

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Date of creation: Nov 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic History, 56 (September 1996): PP.605-625.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0063
Note: DAE
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Margo, Robert A. & Villaflor, Georgia C., 1987. "The Growth of Wages in Antebellum America: New Evidence," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 873-895, December.
  2. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  3. Claudia Goldin & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold92-1, August.
  4. Robert A. Margo, 1992. "Wages and Prices during the Antebellum Period: A Survey and New Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 173-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Moorhouse John C. & Smith Margaret Supplee, 1994. "The Market for Residential Architecture: 19th Century Row Houses in Boston's South End," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 267-277, May.
  6. Ethel D. Hoover, 1960. "Retail Prices after 1850," NBER Chapters, in: Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century, pages 141-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Georgia C. Villaflor, 1991. "The Market for Manufacturing Workers During Early Industrialization: The American Northeast, 1820 to 1860," NBER Historical Working Papers 0028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Adams, Donald R., 1975. "Residential Construction Industry in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(04), pages 794-816, December.
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