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Schmick, Ethan (2017) UNIONS, PELLAGRA, AND SCHOOLS IN AMERICAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation consists of three chapters. In each chapter I attempt to answer a question that pertains to the development of the American economy and also appeals to a general interest audience. I answer these questions in as straightforward of a manner as I deem possible and, when appropriate, I eschew technical details in favor of intuition.
The first chapter of this dissertation sets out to answer one of the most enduring and contentious questions in the social sciences: why is the American labor movement so weak relative to other countries? In the spirit of Olson (1965), I build and test a model of labor union formation and activity, and, in the process, put forth industrial structure (particularly firm size) as a new explanation for the relative weakness of the American labor movement.
The second chapter of this dissertation (co-authored with Karen Clay and Werner Troesken) addresses another enduring question in economic history and development: does cash cropping, and the commercialization of agriculture more generally, adversely affect nutrition? We use pellagra, a disease caused by a niacin deficiency, to study the impact of cash cropping on nutrition. Our work shows that cash cropping can displace local food production and set in- motion nutritional deficits that have long-term consequences not only for health but also for socioeconomic status.
The third chapter of this dissertation (co-authored with Allison Shertzer) addresses a controversial question in labor and education economics: do school resources improve educational and labor market outcomes? We exploit the first large expansion in school resources, which occurred between 1900 and 1930, when expenditures per student almost doubled, student- teacher ratios decreased by 20% and teacher salaries increased by a third. We find that increasing per pupil spending did, indeed, increase wages later in life. However, we find little evidence that increases in per pupil spending increased educational attainment.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schmick, Ethanejs83@pitt.eduejs83
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTroesken,
Committee MemberWalsh,
Committee MemberShertzer,
Committee MemberClay,
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 May 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 21 June 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 179
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, economic history, labor unions, collective action, pellagra, urban schools
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 00:35
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 00:35


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