New NBER Working Papers

27 October 2008 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

Three new NBER papers likely to interest the O&M crowd. (Aggressive Googlers can probably find ungated versions.)

Railroads and the Rise of the Factory: Evidence for the United States, 1850-70 by Jeremy Atack, Michael R. Haines, and Robert A. Margo

Over the course of the nineteenth century manufacturing in the United States shifted from artisan shop to factory production. At the same time United States experienced a transportation revolution, a key component of which was the building of extensive railroad network. Using a newly created data set of manufacturing establishments linked to county level data on rail access from 1850-70, we ask whether the coming of the railroad increased establishment size in manufacturing. Difference-in-difference and instrument variable estimates suggest that the railroad had a positive effect on factory status. In other words, Adam Smith was right – the division of labor in nineteenth century American manufacturing was limited by the extent of the market.

The Limited Partnership in New York, 1822-1853: Partnerships Without Kinship by Eric Hilt and Katharine O’Banion

In 1822, New York became the first common-law state to authorize the formation of limited partnerships, and over the ensuing decades, many other states followed. Most prior research has suggested that these statutes were utilized only rarely, but little is known about their effects. Using newly collected data, this paper analyzes the use of the limited partnership in nineteenth-century New York City. We find that the limited partnership form was adopted by a surprising number of firms, and that limited partnerships had more capital, failed at lower rates, and were less likely to be formed on the basis of kinship ties, compared to ordinary partnerships. The latter differences were not simply due to selection: even though the merchants who invested in limited partnerships were a wealthy and successful elite, their own ordinary partnerships were quite different from their limited partnerships. The results suggest that the limited partnership facilitated investments outside kinship networks, and into the hands of talented young merchants.

Inside the Black of Box of Ability Peer Effects: Evidence from Variation in Low Achievers in the Classroom by Victor Lavy, Daniele Paserman, and Analia Schlosser

In this paper, we estimate the extent of ability peer effects in the classroom and explore the underlying mechanisms through which these peer effects operate. We identify as low ability students those who are enrolled at least one year behind their birth cohort (repeaters). We show that there are marked differences between the academic performance and behavior of repeaters and regular students. The status of repeaters is mostly determined by first grade; therefore, it is unlikely to have been affected by their classroom peers, and our estimates will not suffer from the reflection problem. Using within school variation in the proportion of these low ability students across cohorts of middle and high school students in Israel, we find that the proportion of low achieving peers has a negative effect on the performance of regular students, especially those located at the lower end of the ability distribution. An exploration of the underlying mechanisms of these peer effects shows that, relative to regular students, repeaters report that teachers are better in the individual treatment of students and in the instilment of capacity for individual study. However, a higher proportion of these low achieving students results in a deterioration of teachers’ pedagogical practices, has detrimental effects on the quality of inter-student relationships and the relationships between teachers and students, and increases the level of violence and classroom disruptions.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, Corporate Governance, Management Theory, Papers, Theory of the Firm.

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