ECON 491 - The History of the American Economy
Section: 001
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Economics (ECON)
Department: LSA Economics
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
Enforced Prerequisites:
ECON 401 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better); OR Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:

Economic development and institutional change in the U.S. from colonial times to the present. Timing, pace, and sources of economic growth; structural change; economic activity; industrialization; government intervention; and income distribution. The history of the American economy is full of drama, controversy, amazing institutions and colorful characters. This course studies the questions of history using the theoretical and empirical tools of economics.

Among these questions are:

  • How did land abundance and labor scarcity affect the development of the American economy?
  • How did the American population grow? Immigration, births, deaths?
  • Why did the American colonists seek independence from England?
  • How important was the railroad to the growth of the American economy?
  • How did Americans conquer the continent “from sea to shining sea”?
  • Why did slavery persist so long in America? Why did it take a war to get rid of slavery?
  • How did the American economy thrive without a unified currency, a banking system or a Central Bank?
  • What caused the Great Depression? Could it happen again?
  • What was the impact of wars on the American economy?
  • Course Requirements:

    This course requires substantial writing. Students will submit a minimum of 6 short (2 page) papers in the form of answers to questions distributed in advance and write a major research paper. Grades are based on performance on these writing assignments and on two in-class essay exams.

    Intended Audience:

    Students who are interested in applying the tool of economic analysis to questions in American Economic History and who want a course with substantial writing.

    Class Format:

    Students are expected to attend all class meetings. Lecture is the predominant instructional method, but students are encouraged to raise questions and are required to participate in periodic structured discussions and group exercises.

    ECON 491 - The History of the American Economy
    Schedule Listing
    001 (LEC)
    MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
    NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

    Students may use any of the following editions: 10th, 11th, 12th ,13th. The newest,13th, is also available electronically.
    ISBN: 1111822921
    History of the American economy, Author: Gary M. Walton, Hugh Rockoff. Twelfth ed 2014
    ISBN: 1577660633
    Economical writing, Author: Deirdre N. McCloskey., Publisher: Waveland Press 2nd ed. 2000
    Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

    Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ECON 491 (UM login required)

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