The next event of the Nepostrans seminar series will be held on April 24, 15:00 CET.
Hybrid event with Tamás Vonyó (Associate Professor of Economic History at Bocconi University, Department of Social and Political Sciences) and Mária Hidvégi (research fellow (AdR) in the ERC Horizon 2020 project Spoils of WAR).
Registration is required: https://forms.gle/Sxof4ZKCsuZNKgKG7
(Zoom link will be sent after registration)
Venue: Institute of Political History – Library, 1114 Budapest, Villányi út 11-13.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1491434188269701/
This talk reports results from our research project funded by an ERC Horizon 2020 Starting Grant, Spoils of War: The Economic Consequences of the Great War in Central Europe. We quantify the concentration of employment and sales in the war economy, and we study what impact it had on the economic development of Habsburg regions as well as on the growth of industrial enterprises and spatial clusters of industry.
The recent economic history of modern wars has focused most prominently on the Second World War (Streb-Vonyó 2014; Boldorf-Okazaki 2015; Scherner-White 2016). The economic history of the Great War has come out of fashion (Ziegler 2015). Historians were more interested in the economic consequences of the peace than of the war. The spirit of Keynes lived on in an approach that ignored transformational dynamics and the fact that the economic consequences of the wars were differential across regions, industries, and firms. Historians had greater interest in the political economy of war (Huntington 1968; Tilly 1975) and, therefore, spent more effort on understanding how the state managed the economy in wartime (Horne 2007) than how the war changed the economy. Recent reviews on the historiography of the Great War in Austria-Hungary reflect and remain faithful to these traditions (Schmied-Kowarzik) 2016; Pogány 2016).
The quantitative accounts of the Habsburg war economy are antique, written between the world wars, and focus on macroeconomic outcomes: inflation, unemployment, or national income. We have statistical evidence on structural change in employment and production. By contrast, we know very little about the relative performance of different regions, industries, and enterprises. My research aims to reduce this knowledge gap by exploiting two unique inventories complied by the Imperial War Ministry of Austria-Hungary. The personnel statistics of military contractors in the autumn of 1916 lists enterprises by industry and reports their operative location, the size and the composition of their workforce. The comprehensive inventory of military contractors from the summer of 1914 until the end of 1917 lists firms with their main product lines, the total value of deliveries, and the value of war bonds that they had subscribed. Both sources were strictly confidential, and thus not likely manipulated, and they reported data at the firm level, which we can aggregate both by industry and by region using the classifications of pre-war and interwar occupational and business censuses.
Exploiting this large database and using GIS applications, we map the distribution of wartime employment by industry and region, and the concentration of production in the main war industries. The workforce of military contractors is compared to pre-war employment in the respective industries to measure the relative size of the war economy and the degree of structural and spatial concentration in war production. By comparing the share of the main suppliers in army contracts to their share in wartime employment in each industry, we can demonstrate the extent to which big firms and their spatial clusters reaped the spoils of the war. This is a pathbreaking attempt to provide a comprehensive account of war production in a major belligerent economy using firm-level data that enable disaggregated analysis and bridges the gap between the economic and business history of the war.
Tamás Vonyó is Associate Professor of EconomicHistoryatBocconi University, Department of Social and Political Sciences. He is principal investigator of the ERC Horizon 2020 project Spoils of WAR, which studies the economic consequences of World War I in Central Europe. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2011. He held previous positions at the London School of Economics and the Groningen Growth and Development Centre. He is a research fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London. His research focuses on the history of modern economic growth and the economic history of the world wars, especially in the context of Central and Eastern Europe. He published his monograph, The economic consequences of the war: West Germany’s growth miracle after 1945, with Cambridge University Press in 2018.
Mária Hidvégi is a researchfellow (AdR) in the ERC Horizon 2020 project SpoilsofWAR. She received her PhD in ComparativeCultural and SocialHistoryfromthe University of Leipzig in 2015. She had research fellowships at the University of Konstanz and Humboldt University in Berlin. Her research has focused on the development of leading firms and cartels in the electrotechnical industry and the history of electrification in Central Europe. In the Spoils of WAR project, she examines the history of the largest manufacturing enterprises of the Habsburg Empire in World War I and their role in postwar reconstruction. She published her monograph, Anschluss an den Weltmarkt: Ungarns elektrotechnische Leitunternehmen 1867–1949, with Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht in 2016.