Created 12/3/1997
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Final Exam: Econ 210a: Fall 1997

Introduction to Economic History

J. Bradford DeLong
Christina D. Romer

Department of Economics
University of California at Berkeley


There are six questions, each of equal weight. Answer all six. Your answers should be typed, double-spaced, and legible. The answer to each question should be on a separate piece of paper. The answer to each question should be no longer than 300 words. Longer answers will not be read, so do not waste your time. Your answers should include clear analysis and should demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the assigned readings. The exam should be returned to Christina Romer in room 681 Evans by Monday, December 8th, at 12:00 noon.

1. Several of the papers on the reading list discuss the difficulties of measuring long-run and short-run macroeconomic performance over time. What are some of the key issues involved in measuring growth and fluctuations across centuries? What are some of the lessons about data construction and usage suggested by this literature?

2. As of 1850 the world had one industrial economy: England. The question of why England turned out to be the first industrial nation has been one of the standard questions in economic history for a century and a half. It comes in three flavors: (1) Why someplace in Eurasia, and not someplace elsewhere? (2) Why someplace in Europe, and not some region in China, India, or the Middle East? (3) Why England and not someplace else in Europe. How much do economic historians know about the answers to these three questions? Where are their views solid? Where are their views shaky?

3. Abundant natural resources are often seen as a crucial determinant of the pace and pattern of American economic growth and development. Do you agree or disagree with this view? Support your position with references to the literature on American industrialization and industrial organization, on Southern growth, and on immigration.

4. To what extent was the Great Depression a watershed--an event that changed everything, and made the world thereafter permanently different? To what extent did it merely accelerate (or temporarily interrupt) processes of economic and institutional development that were already underway?

5. Economists and economic historians keep trying to place the comparative growth experiences of different countries in the twentieth century into a comprehensible set of theoretical boxes: country X grew fast because of A; country Y grew slowly because of B. They hope to understand global growth patterns as the result of a few important, salient factors. How successful have their attempts to understand comparative global growth patterns been?

6. There are many interesting similarities between papers in different categories on the reading list. For example, the paper by Temin on the industrial revolution and the paper by Wright on the origins of American industrial success both use trade statistics to analyze the nature of industrialization. Similarly, both Calomiris and Hubbard and Pritchett and Chamberlain use a natural experiment to understand a key feature of the American economy of the past. Pick a pair of papers from different weeks on the reading list that you feel presents an interesting comparison. Discuss, among other things, why you chose this comparison, the relative success of the two papers, and the lessons learned from the comparison for research in economic history.


Created 12/3/1997
Go to Brad DeLong's Home Page

Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans
University of California at Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax