Government and the American Economy

A New History

Price V. Fishback et al.

Price V. Fishback et al.

Robert Higgs, Gary D. Libecap, John Joseph Wallis, Stanley L. Engerman, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Sumner J. La Croix, Robert A. Margo, Robert A. McGuire, Richard Sylla, Lee J. Alston, Joseph P. Ferrie, Mark Guglielmo, E. C. Pasour, Jr., Randal R. Rucker, and Werner Troesken
With a Preface by Douglass C. North
560 pages | 9 line drawings, 32 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2007
Paper $37.50 ISBN: 9780226251288 Published May 2007
E-book $7.00 to $30.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226251295 Published September 2008

The American economy has provided a level of well-being that has consistently ranked at or near the top of the international ladder. A key source of this success has been widespread participation in political and economic processes. In The Government and the American Economy, leading economic historians chronicle the significance of America’s open-access society and the roles played by government in its unrivaled success story.

America’s democratic experiment, the authors show, allowed individuals and interest groups to shape the structure and policies of government, which, in turn, have fostered economic success and innovation by emphasizing private property rights, the rule of law, and protections of individual freedom. In response to new demands for infrastructure, America’s federal structure hastened development by promoting the primacy of states, cities, and national governments. More recently, the economic reach of American government expanded dramatically as the populace accepted stronger limits on its economic freedoms in exchange for the increased security provided by regulation, an expanded welfare state, and a stronger national defense.

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Robert W. Fogel
“This book is a penetrating analysis of the changing role of the government in the U.S. economy from colonial time to the present.  Each chapter is a cameo presentation of its topic or period.”--Robert W. Fogel, Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions, University of Chicago, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
Barry R. Weingast
“This engaging and unique book tells the story of the evolution of the American economy from colonial times to the present – the journey of the United States from a peripheral state in the Atlantic economy to world leader. Along the way, it not only tells the economic story, but a political one, emphasizing the role of the government and interest groups in American economic development. The contributors represent a major portion of who's who in economic history.”--Barry R. Weingast, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor in the Department of Political Science, Stanford University
Paul Rhode
“This is an important contribution to understanding both continuities and changes in the dynamics of the American economy and the role of governments at the federal, state, and local levels. The highly stimulating essays on the evolving role of government in the American economy, contributed by world class scholars, will be of interest to economists, political scientists, economic historians, and historians of public policy, who will find much to learn and much to teach.”--Paul Rhode, University of Arizona
Jeffrey G. Williamson
“Ever since Adam Smith, our intuition has led us to believe that good government and good institutions are absolutely central to economic development. Modern economic theory and empirical analysis have now converted that intuition into concrete fact. Government and the American Economy is a superb example of this conversion. It is a must read for anyone interested in what makes for long run economic success.”--Jeffrey G. Williamson, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Harvard University
BizEd
"They say that history is written by the winners, but history might be even more interesting when it's written by the economists. . . . It's a fascinating journey."
Choice
"An invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to know more about public economies and economic history. The volume includes contributions from leading economic historians, and readers are sure to find the essays easy to understand and enjoyable to read. . . . Highly recommended."
Joseph M. Santos | Enterprise & Society
"This volume not only deftly investigates whether and to what extent these and other policies have augmented standards of living. It also recognizes that such policies produce unintended consequences, including a government--read military-industrial-congressional complex--on which we increasingly rely."
Contents
Dedication   v
   Price Fishback

List of Tables and Figures  xiii

About the Authors   xv

Foreword xvii
   Douglass C. North

1. Government and the Economy
   Price Fishback

2. Goverment in Colonial America
   Stanley L. Engerman

3. The Founding Era, 1774-1791
   Robert A. McGuire

4. Property Rights and Federal Land Policy
   Gary D. Libecap

5. Reversing Financial Reversals: Government and the Financial System since 1789
   Richard Sylla

6. The National Era
   John Joseph Wallis

7. The Civil War and Reconstruction
   Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

8. Government and the American Dilemma
   Robert A. Margo

9. The Gilded Age
   Mark Guglielmo and Werner Troesken

10. The Progressive Era
   Price Fishback

11. Government and the People: Labor, Education, and Health
   Sumner J. La Croix

12. The Federal Bureaucracy: From Patronage to Civil Service
   Gary D. Libecap

13. The New Deal
   Price Fishback

14. The World Wars
   Robert Higgs

15. The Growth of U.S. Farm Programs
   Randal R. Rucker and E. C. Pasour Jr.

16. Shaping Welfare Policy: The Role of the South
   Lee J. Alston and Joseph P. Ferrie

17. Seeking Security in the Postwar Era
   Price Fishback


Appendix A. Key Indicators of Economic and Government Activity
  John Joseph Wallis and Price Fishback
Appendix B. The Articles of the Confederation
Appendix C. The Constitution of the United States
Appendix D. The Bill of Rights
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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