Lifting the Curse of Dimensionality: Measures of the Labor Legislation Climate in the States During the Progressive Era

75 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2008 Last revised: 19 Mar 2021

See all articles by Price V. Fishback

Price V. Fishback

University of Arizona; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Rebecca Holmes

Cox Communication

Samuel Allen

Virginia Military Institute

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

One of the most difficult problems in the social sciences is measuring the policy climate in societies. Prior to the 1930s the vast majority of labor regulations in the U.S. were enacted at the state level. In this paper we develop several summary measures of labor regulation that document the changes in labor regulation across states and over time during the Progressive Era. The measures include an Employer-Share-Weighted Index (ESWI) that weights regulations by the share of workers affected and builds up the overall index from 17 categories of regulation; the number of pages of laws; appropriations for spending on labor issues per worker; and two nonparametric COORDINATES that summarize locations in a policy space. We describe the pluses and minuses of the measures, how strongly they are correlated, and show the stories that they tell about the changes in labor regulation during the progressive era. We then provide preliminary evidence on the extent to which the labor regulation measures are associated with political and economic correlates identified as important in histories of industrial relations and labor markets.

Suggested Citation

Fishback, Price V. and Holmes, Rebecca and Allen, Samuel, Lifting the Curse of Dimensionality: Measures of the Labor Legislation Climate in the States During the Progressive Era (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14167, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1161090

Price V. Fishback (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4421 (Phone)
520-621-8450 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Rebecca Holmes

Cox Communication ( email )

1400 Lake Hearn Drive
Atlanta, GA 30319
United States

Samuel Allen

Virginia Military Institute ( email )

Department of Economics and Business
Scott Shipp Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States

HOME PAGE: http://academics2.vmi.edu/ECBU/AllenSK/

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