NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Timothy Guinnane

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Working Papers and Chapters

March 2014Caveat Lector: Sample Selection in Historical Heights and the Interpretation of Early Industrializing Economies
with Howard Bodenhorn, Thomas Mroz: w19955
Much of the research on height in historical populations relies on convenience samples. A crucial question with convenience samples is whether the sample accurately reflects the characteristics of the population; if not, then estimated parameters will be affected by sample selection bias. This paper applies a simple test for selection biased developed in Bodenhorn, Guinnane, and Mroz (2013) to several historical samples of prisoners, freed slaves, and college students. We reject the hypothesis of no selection bias in all cases. Using Roy’s (1951) model of occupational choice, we interpret these findings as reflecting the economic forces that lead individuals to take the actions the led to inclusion in the sample. Our findings suggest that much of the evidence on the “industrialization pu...
May 2007Putting the Corporation in its Place
with Ron Harris, Naomi R. Lamoreaux, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal: w13109
This article challenges the idea that the corporation is a globally superior form of business organization and that the Anglo-American common-law is more conducive to economic development than the code-based legal systems characteristic of continental Europe. Although the corporation had important advantages over the main alternative form of organization (partnerships), it also had disadvantages that limited its appeal to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As a result, when businesses were provided with an intermediate choice, the private limited liability company (PLLC) that combined the advantages of legal personhood and joint stock with a flexible internal organizational structure, most chose not to organize as corporations. This article tracks the changes that occurred in the...
December 1995Turning Points in the Civil War: Views from the Greenback Market
with Kristen L. Willard, Harvey S. Rosen: w5381
In early 1862, the United States government began issuing Greenbacks, a legal tender currency that was not convertible into gold. The government promised to redeem the Greenbacks in gold eventually, but speculators understood that the probability of redemption depended on Union Army military fortunes and political developments that affected the total cost of the war. To serve the speculative interest in gold, a market emerged for the purpose of trading Greenbacks for gold dollars. Because the market price of a Greenback reflected the public's perceptions of future war costs, the movement of these prices provides unique insights into how people at the time perceived various events. We use daily quotations of the gold price of Greenbacks to identify a set of dates during the Civil War th...

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