Questions which concern the historical management, distribution, and usage of resources; why a particular resource, or state of production, occurred in a certain way.

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9
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1answer
269 views

What historical situation is comparable to what Europe is currently facing?

I know that this question might get closed, but I will try it, nevertheless. The reason why I am so interested in broad comparisons of historical situations with current ones, is because I believe ...
9
votes
1answer
4k views

Impact of the Berlin Wall to GDR

"No one has the intention of erecting a wall!" - Walter Ulbricht, June 15,1961. The Wall was erected anyway, because more than 2.6 million East Germans escaped to West Berlin or West Germany from ...
9
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1answer
205 views

What surface area per person is required for hunter-gatherers?

I am sure I have read it somewhere, but I can't figure out in which book anymore (I think Steve Pinker's How the Mind Works) Most of human (pre-)history (and evolution) has happened in a foraging ...
8
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3answers
2k views

How much has U.S. currency inflated since 1792?

How much has U.S. currency inflated since the Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. Mint? Adjusting for inflation, what amount of modern currency would have the same buying power as a 1792 dollar? ...
8
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2answers
813 views

How can the value of older currencies be expressed in modern units? How is the conversion rate calculated? [duplicate]

We can pretty often read something like.. "He owned this sum of silver/gold which is equal to this sum of dollars in our time." But how is this calculated? How can you know what a 1000 dollars was in ...
8
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3answers
554 views

Why was the government expenditures of the Roman Empire very low compared to modern governments?

I was trying to compare the military spending of the Roman empire in the 1st century with modern military spending and how much of a burden that was to Roman people. The Wikipedia page of the ...
8
votes
2answers
421 views

Where did the demand for textiles during the industrial revolution come from?

A lot of the technological developments in the early-ish industrial revolution in Britain were about increasing the rate and efficiency of textile manufacture. It's easy to find material about what ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What was the reason for inflation in Britain after the Black Death?

According to the Wikipedia article Ordinance of Labourers 1349 During this outbreak [of Black Death], an estimated 30-40% of the population died. The decline in population left surviving workers ...
8
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3answers
3k views

GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWII?

Perhaps this is difficult to measure and maybe not even a good metric for anything meaningful, but what was the GDP and GDP per capita for nations around the world immediately before World War II? ...
8
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2answers
303 views

What is the largest overnight depreciation?

What is the largest overnight currency depreciation? How large, which currency and when? When examining historical records of currency depreciation, it is helpful to have a better understanding of ...
8
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1answer
378 views

Inflation Rate in Spain and Portugal during 16th century

What was the yearly/monthly inflation rate in Spain and Portugal during 16th century? Is there data for the amount of silver or gold possessed by the crowns during that period? How much did it ...
8
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2answers
463 views

Why did Britain decide to issue perpetual bonds during Napoleonic era?

Background A few years ago I was a student of an economic course about loans, debts, interests, NPV etc. The trainer mentioned "The UK took a loan to fund wars against Napoleon. This has no term, and ...
8
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2answers
386 views

Medieval farmer's metal tools

What metal woodworking tools should I expect to find in the household of a 14th century well-off peasant farmer from Hampshire? (Answering more broadly is acceptable, but it might help to give this ...
8
votes
1answer
191 views

Where can I find detailed accounts of cash-less payment in medevial and ancient times?

In his book "Debt: The first 5000 Years" David Graeber writes that during most of the middle ages and antiquity coins were seldom used in day-to-day dealings, at least of the more rural population. He ...
8
votes
2answers
142 views

What is the meaning of “£10 per cent” in the early 19th century in relation to a wage (30/- fortnight)

Reading Hammond and Hammond (1919) The Skilled labourer I came across the expression of £10% in the quoted primary sources, ie, at 34: The Duke of Northumberland wrote to the H.O. on May 26 that work ...
8
votes
1answer
467 views

What are the social preconditions for division of labour, when compared in different emerging civilizations?

I would like to know if historians/economists/sociologists agree on the preconditions required for division of labour in ancient and/or earlier societies. Are there any common preconditions and ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the current U.S. monetary standard? [closed]

Despite my greatest efforts, I could not find any information about what standard the U.S. is using at this time. Apparently, we used to be on a gold standard. What about now? Do we even have a ...
7
votes
5answers
432 views

Is there a link between national debt/trade deficit and starting a war?

I saw in an article mentioning that there is a link between national debt and starting wars I don't recall where I've seen it mentioned to look for further references on the matter. Are there known ...
7
votes
2answers
576 views

Compulsion for Germany to accept the Treaty of Versailles?

At first it is difficult to understand why Germany would have accepted the Treaty of Versailles. The armistice had been agreed upon 11 November 1918 and was explicitly based on the terms of Wilson's ...
7
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3answers
3k views

How rich were carpenters in the Roman province of Iudaea in the 1st century AD?

According to the Biblical account, Jesus was the son of a carpenter, Joseph of Nazareth (Matthew 13,55). Apparently carpenters were not among the wealthy. Be that as it may, how rich could a ...
7
votes
1answer
364 views

What was more expensive to lose in a gladiatorial fight: a gladiator or a rare animal?

We know that, aside from man-to-man combat, gladiatorial fights would often pit human gladiators against wild animals. Is there any documented historical evidence that would show what was a bigger ...
7
votes
1answer
161 views

How long did it take to build earth dikes with low-tech tools?

Let's say you're in charge of a group of laborers anywhere from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages. Your job is to build a dike made of earth, a couple of meters high and presumably about the same width ...
7
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3answers
452 views

During 1790-1800, was it legal to pay workers using whiskey?

As is well known, in frontier regions whiskey was regarded as an indispensable necessity to life, health and happiness, at the point that it usually had to substute for specie as a medium of exchange: ...
7
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2answers
395 views

Examples of censorship causing economic decline [closed]

I am writing a blog post about knowledge banning, either by state censorship or by self-imposed censorship, like the US Comics Code Authority of the 20th century. My focus is moral censorship, ...
7
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1answer
135 views

In exchange for forbidding strikes, did Napoleon guarantee high wages?

According to Wikipedia citing Frank McLynn, Napoleon, Pimlico 1998 Ch 21, p482, strikes were forbidden by Napoleon I in exchange for a guarantee by employers that wages would remain high. How did ...
7
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2answers
117 views

Estimating gross domestic product in ancient times

I would like to estimate, to what extent the Roman republic (or different parts of it) were "agricultural". Today, a common measure to the "agricultural-ness" of an economy is the gross domestic ...
7
votes
1answer
153 views

What did Central America export in the early 20th century other than coffee and bananas?

Coffee and bananas dominated the Central American economy after the turn of the century, accounting for 75% of the region's exports in 1930. Central America became very dependent on the fortune of ...
7
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2answers
457 views

Did the Nazis have any unique or especially effective economic policies?

The Nazi rule in Germany is associated with (among many, many other things) a sudden and powerful economic resurgence. This is especially impressive since it happened in a country that was ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

How has Chinese GDP as a percentage of world GDP changed over time and why?

I've heard it's 33% during the Qing dinasty. 4% during cultural revolution. Now it's climbing up steadily to 11%. Where can I see the table of those actually tracking those numbers? What were the ...
6
votes
2answers
747 views

Were natural resources a primary reason for invading Romania during the middle ages-present?

When I was in school in Romania I remember my history teacher saying that historically Romania has seen a lot of invaders (referring mainly from the middle ages-present) because it used to have a lot ...
6
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6answers
346 views

Has scholarship shown that persecuted religious minorities have tended to be financially successful?

In this interview with Neal Stephenson, talking about the historical basis for his Baroque Cycle series of novels, he makes the remark that ... persecuted religious minorities, if they’re not ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Did Roosevelt's New Deal lift the U.S. out of the depression or did it actually prolong the Depression and cripple American capitalism? [closed]

While the New Deal did much to lessen the worst affects of the Great Depression, its measures were not sweeping enough to restore the nation to full employment. Critics of FDR's policies, on ...
6
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3answers
256 views

What containers were used for food prior to the industrial era?

Today, when you go shopping, most of the food are kept in plastic or paper containers (or tin can). What types of containers were used to sell, transport and keep the food before plastic ? and ...
6
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2answers
207 views

How would prospective members join a medieval European guild?

On related lines, 1) How would a young person (young man) have selected a master with whom to apprentice? How did the matching up process work? 2) What motivated a master/practitioner to take on an ...
6
votes
2answers
293 views

How/why did Plzeň become the “armourer” for Austria-Hungary?

In 1938, Nazi Germany coveted (the modern) Czech [Republic] in large part for its Skoda Works which produced something like one-quarter of the arms and ammunition used by the Third Reich. From what ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views

Which have been the most and least successful Olympics in terms of economic impact?

When discussing the Olympics, politicians are always keen to stress the economic benefits that will flow to the host city. A number of commentators in the media though have suggested that the bulk of ...
6
votes
2answers
449 views

Why did pastorial people from central Asia migrate to Europe?

Alans, Huns, Magyars, Mongols. They were all pastoralists whose material culture and economic life seems more suited to the Asian steppes. Yet for some reason they migrated into the European land ...
6
votes
3answers
441 views

How did shells, bones, and other trinkets work as currency?

One often hears stories about civilised and pre-civilised societies using shells, bones, and other trinkets as currency. How exactly did this system work? Taking the example of shells, did they have ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

Were boycotts, divestment, and sanctions effective against apartheid?

In the 1980s there was a movement to use boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to apply pressure on the apartheid regime in South Africa. These efforts included sports boycotts, refusal of some ...
6
votes
2answers
197 views

Did Demosthenes complain about inflation of prices in philippics?

Did Demosthenes complain about inflation of prices in his philippics caused by Philip II of Macedon's extensive gold mining? I have heard it somewhere but I can not find any refference.
5
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5answers
440 views

Historical examples of energy wars

Energy sources and resources like oil and coal are vital for the survival of modern civilizations. Are there any good historical examples of wars, or low intensity armed conflicts, over the control ...
5
votes
1answer
379 views

During World War II, in the U.S., were diapers available?

As is well known, during World War II many consumer goods became difficult to find and with regard to the situation in the United States, after some searches, I observed that, among others: U.S. ...
5
votes
3answers
506 views

How did an input of resources in 16th century Spain contribute to inflation?

My history book claims that the flow of Silver from the New World to Spain in the 16th century contributed to an inflation. However, that seems very unintuitive. How could gaining resources lead to a ...
5
votes
2answers
197 views

Was COMECON involved in economic imperialism and if so, to what extent?

Disclaimer: I am not 100% sure if it was COMECON, it might be another Soviet apparatus. I recall reading about how the Soviet Union forced her Eastern European satellites into very lucrative and ...
5
votes
3answers
248 views

Did the increase of slavery in the US bring an end to indentured servitude?

In the development of the New World, indentured servitude was quite common for passage across the Atlantic. Did the increase in slavery in America, especially in Virginia and other similar ...
5
votes
2answers
199 views

What were the first “Big Banks” in the United States?

The large financial institutions of the world have dominated the news cycle for the past few years, and it got me thinking, what were the first large banks in the US? I am interested in hearing about ...
5
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1answer
800 views

Income distribution of major combatants before and after WWII?

This question about GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWI made me wonder how these GDPs were distributed. Do we know the Gini coefficient (or a similiar metric) for the major ...
5
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3answers
136 views

Why did overestimated coins led to inflation and well-estimated coins to deflation?

It is said in Debt, the first 5,000 years by David Graeber (chapter 4, note 2) that when the value of metal coins represented exactly their weight, the result was deflation. The author says that when ...
5
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2answers
227 views

Were railroads indispensable to American economic development?

In "Railroads and American Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric History", 1964, Robert W. Fogel, the father of modern econometric history, found that railroads were not indispensable to American's ...
5
votes
1answer
402 views

What were some of the complications of Marshall Plan?

What were some of the complications that were revolved around the Marshall Plan? Were the Soviets involved in any way?