I am a fifth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
References: Richard Hornbeck (chair, Chicago Booth), Rodrigo Adao (Chicago Booth), and Anders Humlum (Chicago Booth)
I examine the long-run impacts of a deskilling technology on workers and their children. The McKay stitcher dramatically changed shoe production in the late 19th century by replacing skilled artisans with machines and less-skilled workers. It was licensed in only a few counties and impacted workers across counties unevenly through the transportation network. More-exposed shoemakers left traditional shoemaking for lower wages and did not migrate. The transfer of occupation from father to son was disrupted, and the children of shoemakers entered lower income occupations. New entrants to shoe factories came from poorer and less educated families. Using a model of occupation selection, I infer the change in life-time earnings implied by the impact of the technology on occupation exit. I find that the most exposed shoemakers and their children lost 2.2 and 2.5 years of wages, respectively.
How do futures markets affect prices? We study an important historical event in order to shed light on this question: in 1865, the Chicago Board of Trade suddenly set up formal futures markets. We digitize weekly information on spot prices and storage for traded commodities. Futures markets lead both prices and storage to fall in the short run, but prices recover within a year. We develop a model of forward-looking buyers and sellers with access to storage that can fit this pattern.
The proliferation of automobiles in the early 20th century led to the rapid decline of occupations related to horse-driven transportation, including teamsters and drivers of wagons and buggies. Using newly digitized data on state highways in this period and data on motor vehicle registrations, we create a measure of exposure to automobiles to examine the long-run consequences for incumbent horse-related workers. We characterize the workers who adjusted best and who bore the largest burden.
We examine economic adjustments at the establishment level caused by the rapid expansion of the railroad system in the 19th century United States. Using recently digitized establishment level data from the Census of Manufacturers in 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, we find that greater market access did not lead to industry specialization but did lead to establishment-level specialization at the product level. Establishments produced fewer products and used correspondingly fewer inputs in production.