Industrial Sickness Funds

John E. Murray, University of Toledo Overview and Definition Industrial sickness funds provided an early form of health insurance. They were financial institutions that extended cash payments and in some cases medical benefits to members who became unable to work due to sickness or injury. The term industrial sickness funds is a later construct which […]

The Economic History of Indonesia

Jeroen Touwen, Leiden University, Netherlands Introduction In recent decades, Indonesia has been viewed as one of Southeast Asia’s successful highly performing and newly industrializing economies, following the trail of the Asian tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) (see Table 1). Although Indonesia’s economy grew with impressive speed during the 1980s and 1990s, it […]

Hours of Work in U.S. History

Robert Whaples, Wake Forest University In the 1800s, many Americans worked seventy hours or more per week and the length of the workweek became an important political issue. Since then the workweek’s length has decreased considerably. This article presents estimates of the length of the historical workweek in the U.S., describes the history of the […]

An Overview of the Great Depression

Randall Parker, East Carolina University This article provides an overview of selected events and economic explanations of the interwar era. What follows is not intended to be a detailed and exhaustive review of the literature on the Great Depression, or of any one theory in particular. Rather, it will attempt to describe the “big picture” […]

The Freedmen’s Bureau

William Troost, University of British Columbia The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, more commonly know as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was a federal agency established to help Southern blacks transition from their lives as slaves to free individuals. The challenges of this transformation were enormous as the Civil War devastated the region – leaving […]

Fraternal Sickness Insurance

Herb Emery, University of Calgary Introduction During the nineteenth and early-twentieth century, lost income due to illness was one of the greatest risks to a wage earner’s household’s standard of living (Horrell and Oxley 2000, Hoffman 2001). Prior to the introduction of state health insurance in England in 1911, similar “patchworks of protection” — that […]

An Economic History of Finland

Riitta Hjerppe, University of Helsinki Finland in the early 2000s is a small industrialized country with a standard of living ranked among the top twenty in the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was a poor agrarian country with a gross domestic product per capita less than half of that of the […]

The Economics of American Farm Unrest, 1865-1900

James I. Stewart, Reed College American farmers have often expressed dissatisfaction with their lot but the decades after the Civil War were extraordinary in this regard. The period was one of persistent and acute political unrest. The specific concerns of farmers were varied, but at their core was what farmers perceived to be their deteriorating […]

The U.S. Economy in the 1920s

Gene Smiley, Marquette University Introduction The interwar period in the United States, and in the rest of the world, is a most interesting era. The decade of the 1930s marks the most severe depression in our history and ushered in sweeping changes in the role of government. Economists and historians have rightly given much attention […]

History of Food and Drug Regulation in the United States

Marc T. Law, University of Vermont Throughout history, governments have regulated food and drug products. In general, the focus of this regulation has been on ensuring the quality and safety of food and drugs. Food and drug regulation as we know it today in the United States had its roots in the late nineteenth century […]