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EHA - Economic History Association

September 11-13, 2009
2009 Economic History Association Meetings
Tucson, Arizona
As is the rule, papers on all subjects in economic history are welcome, but a number of sessions will be devoted to the theme "Human Welfare: Measurement, Analysis and Interpretation." The ultimate goal of economic historians is to illuminate the evolution of human welfare. This year's theme promotes efforts to unify and to find common denominators in diverse approaches to understanding this central aspect of our past. Measurement is a central concern, even in modern studies of this complex subject. Among the issues to consider are the variety of approaches and how they compare. What was the contribution of improvements in health? Of emancipation or freedom? Of the right to vote? Of moderating the business cycle, or reducing bank failures? Can we estimate the social cost of inequality or crime, and of war, epidemics and other calamities? Of consumer surplus from trade? By how much did technological change improve welfare by making home and market production, as well as travel, easier and safer? What was the cost of isolation, or alternatively the benefit of cheap communication? What are the counterfactuals most suitable for addressing these types of questions? Of course, these ideas are merely suggestions, and we have at our disposal a growing array of economic theories and empirical methods to estimate how "progress" translates into human welfare.
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