Labor Costs, Paternalism, and Loyalty in Southern Agriculture: A Constraint on the Growth of the Welfare State

Lee J. Alston, Joseph P. Ferrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine the role of southern legislators in resisting·the early expansion of the welfare state in the 1930s. A desire to keep agricultural labor cheap and dependent on southern landlords motivated the resistance. Dependence promoted a loyal labor force and thereby reduced monitoring costs in the labor-intensive production of cotton. Federal and state welfare programs would have substituted for landlord paternalism and hence made labor less loyal. Evidence on the federal Old-Age and Unemployment Insurance systems and state Old-Age Pension and Mothers' Aid programs are found consistent with our hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-117
Number of pages23
JournalThe Journal of Economic History
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

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