This article uses census microdata to address key issues in the Mexican immigration debate. First, we find striking parallels in the experiences of older and newer immigrant groups with substantial progress among second- and subsequent-generation immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Mexican Americans. Second, we contradict a view of immigrant history that contends that early-twentieth-century immigrants from southern and eastern Europe found well-paying jobs in manufacturing that facilitated their ascent into the middle class. Both first and second generations remained predominantly working class until after World War II. Third, the erosion of the institutions that advanced earlier immigrant generations is harming the prospects of Mexican Americans. Fourth, the mobility experience of earlier immigrants and of Mexicans and Mexican Americans differed by gender, with a gender gap opening among Mexican Americans as women pioneered the path to white-collar and professional work. Fifth, public-sector and publicly funded employment has proved crucial to upward mobility, especially among women. The reliance on public employment, as contrasted to entrepreneurship, has been one factor setting the Mexican and African American experience apart from the economic history of most southern and eastern European groups as well as from the experiences of some other immigrant groups today.
Almost all premodern states and empires used privatized tax collection. Roman history is a good research site for the study of tax farming because it provides ample variation on its extent and effectiveness while controlling for many other factors. Tax farming began in the early Republic, was expanded but became more exploitative in the late Republic, and then was abolished for some types of taxes and was more centrally controlled for others in the Empire. We use a sociological version of agency theory to explain these changes. In addition to well-known causes of the use and effectiveness of tax farming, such as the size of the empire, the level of development of communications technologies, and the type of tax collected, we show that a major determinant in the Roman case was the characteristics of principals, a function of the form of the state. Differences between the Republic and the Empire can be traced to differences between the senate, which ruled in the former, and the emperors, who ruled in the latter. The perils of privatization in the late Republic were mainly caused by characteristics of the principals, especially the fact that the Roman senate was a multiple principal with a "revolving-door" relationship with the agents it was supposed to control, and were exacerbated by direct senatorial investment in tax farms.
The pawnshop was a critical component of urban credit networks in early modern Europe, serving as a source of ready cash in an era before there was widespread access to deposit banking and formal consumer loans. This article examines the use of the pawnshop, among other financial strategies, such as shop credit and loans between kin and neighbors, by a sample of poor to middling citizen households in eighteenth-century Amsterdam. It also evaluates the multiple links between consumer behavior and the acquisition of either savings or debt. Petty credit from the pawnshop came at a high price, and its use presumed prior access to consumer goods suitable for pawning. Thus we find that the poorest households did not rely on the pawnshop as often or as extensively as their better-situated peers for whom collateral was more easily obtained. Better-situated households also enjoyed easier access to shop credit, the terms of which were more favorable for the consumer. None of these households, however, were in positions to save to the extent necessary for participation in the larger capital markets of Amsterdam and the world.
This article explores the contradictions between the bracero program and the temporary labor program using German prisoners of war in the United States during World War II. Despite the bilateral agreement between Mexico and the United States aimed at protecting the braceros, "who came as allies," they remained alien workers and outsiders. In contrast, German prisoners of war, who came as enemies, were often transformed into personal friends "like our own boys." This article uses archival records, in-depth interviews with former prisoners of war, and secondary sources to analyze several structural factors that help explain these divergent outcomes.
This article examines the historical origins of the notion of "ideal" body weight by tracing the evolution of the gender-specific height and weight table in the United States from 1836 to 1943. Fewer than 200 years ago, weight was not regarded as an important health issue. At the turn of the twentieth century, low body weight, not overweight, was the leading concern of medical practitioners. With the rise of actuarial science, weight became a criterion insurance companies used to assess risk. Used originally as a tool to facilitate the standardization of the medical selection process throughout the life insurance industry, these tables later operationalized the notion of ideal weight and became recommended guidelines for body weights. The height and weight table was transformed from a "tool of the trade" into a means of practicing social regulation.