Dawning Man


Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on Wednesday, plunging the country into greater political unrest following months of protests around Moïse’s controversial decision to rule by decree.

A 2006 article by ROBERT FATTON JR. investigates Haiti’s state formation after independence, shedding light on the country’s current distributional struggles.

From the article:

“Slaves knew that their freedom depended on the destruction of the plantation economy; however, Haiti’s place in world production and utter dependence on sugar exports also rested on the plantation system. At independence Haitian rulers confronted a cruel choice. If they preserved emancipation by supporting the former slaves’ aspirations to become independent peasants, they would ultimately condemn the country to material underdevelopment. If they promoted an immediate economic recovery, they would be compelled to impose a military-like discipline on the newly freed masses and they would thus emasculate emancipation itself. Moreover, the high army officers who led the revolution were determined to keep and expand their power; this in turn required maximising revenues and foreign exchange. The plantation system facilitated the collection of taxes and privileged the concentration of land ownership in the hands of the new ruling class. Thus the imperatives of economic recovery and defending emancipation against the potential military aggressions of the great powers coincided with the class interests of the first postcolonial leaders to create patterns of unequal land ownership and forced labour. Gross material inequalities and political despotism opened a massive chasm between rulers and citizens. The outcome of the slaves’ revolution for freedom was paradoxically a new authoritarianism in the name of emancipation.”

Link to the text.

  • “Despite diplomatic disavowal and economic embargo, Haiti was at the forefront of transforming and liberalizing early 19th-century American trade.” N. Pierre examines British-Haitian trade immediately following Haiti’s independence. Link.
  • “It cannot be denied that the US occupation forces put an end to many of the structures on which 19th-century political chaos rested, but they did so at the cost of creating an equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster: a new army.” Mats Lundahl on Haiti’s political development. Link.
  • “The government of Haiti has received just 1 percent of humanitarian aid. NGOs and private contractors in Haiti have consequently built an extensive infrastructure for the provision of social services.” Vijaya Ramachandran and Julie Walz look at aid spending after the 2010 earthquake. Link. And in a recent article, Darlène Elizabeth Dubuisson analyzes local resistance to NGO bureaucracy. Link.


Landlord Power & Employment Guarantees

KARTIK MISRA is Assistant Professor of Economics at The University of the South. In a 2019 article, he studies how land ownership affects the outcomes of an employment guarantee program in India.

From the abstract:

“By providing 100 days of guaranteed employment to every rural household, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) can challenge the hegemony of landed elites as major employers in the Indian countryside. Using the colonial classification of landlord and non-landlord based land-revenue institutions in India, this paper provides a political economy explanation for regional variation in the labor market impact of NREGA. Comparing the labor market impacts of NREGA between the landlord and non-landlord districts, we find that the provision of public employment under NREGA and correspondingly, its impact on rural wages is muted in landlord districts. In these districts, public employment under NREGA substitutes for self-farming but has no impact on private wage employment. However, the program is highly successful in raising wages by generating more public employment in non-landlord districts. In these districts, the provision of public employment under NREGA crowds-out labor primarily from unpaid domestic work, reflecting an increase in women’s participation in the program.”

Link to the text, link to Misra’s website.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org.

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  • Join us on July 27 at 10 am ET for a conversation around our first book, Market Economy, Market Society, and the past, present, and future of social democracy in Europe. The event, hosted with LSE Sociology, will feature Stephanie Mudge, Adam Przeworski, and Wolfgang Streeck, and be moderated by Waltraud Schelkle. Register here.
  • “Drake nor Cayton dismissed the fundamental force of productive relations, but in their study of Black life, they knew they needed to delve deep into the cultural practices and associational life that shaped socioeconomic experience.” New on PW, Davarian Baldwin recommends St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton’s Black Metropolis as part of the Phenomenal Works series. Link.
  • Nils Redeker investigates the savings glut and the decline of labor power. Link.
  • “The article takes stock of this extremely rapid transition from a traditional and ancestral system, inherited from the water-led civilization of Persia, towards a universal model of water supply in Iran.” By Ayda Alehashemi and Jean-François Coulais. Link.
  • In the Atlantic, Matthew Gordon Lasner on the history of condos. Link.
  • “The rise in tuition and student debt in turn contributed to a sharp decline in homeownership which was concentrated in suburban and urban areas.” By Zachary Bleemer, Meta Brown, Donghoon Lee, Katherine Strair, and Wilbert van der Klaauw. Link. For more analysis on the geography and political economy of student debt, see JFI’s millennial student debt series here.
  • Elham Saeidinezhad argues that the Fed should focus on the distributional impacts of unequal access to cheap debt. Link. And in a recent PW essay, Saeidinezhad analyzes the Fed’s risk management after 2008. Link.
  • Christoph Albert, Paula Bustos and Jacopo Ponticelli look at the effects of climate change-related extreme weather events on labor and capital allocation in Brazil. Link.
  • Manohar Samal examines the use of municipal bonds for urban infrastructure projects in India since 1997. Link.
  • “While economic growth is generated by advances in production efficiency alone, changes in firm-level demand can nevertheless have an indirect impact on aggregate growth through their effect on incentives to conduct R&D.” Marek Ignaszak and Petr Sedláček offer a new perspective on demand-driven growth. Link.
  • “Prominent economists have supposed that the private production of full-bodied gold or silver coins is inefficient: due to information asymmetry, private coins will be chronically low-quality or underweight. An examination of private mints during gold rushes in the US in the years 1830–63 finds otherwise. While some private gold mints produced underweight coins, from incompetence or fraudulent intent, such mints did not last long. Informed by newspapers about the findings of assays, money-users systematically abandoned substandard coins in favour of full-weight coins. Only competent and honest mints survived.” By Lawrence White. Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org

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