Soft Coal, Hard Choices

Soft Coal, Hard Choices : The Economic Welfare of Bituminous Coal Miners, 1890-1930

4.5 (2 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?

Description

Did miners really owe their souls to the company store? Did they receive lower pay than in other jobs, despite the constant danger they faced? Was the quality of life in mining towns uniformly dismal? Soft Coal, Hard Choices answers these and other questions. The book contradicts many myths using evidence ranging from company records to oral histories to statistics collected by state and federal governments. While most studies of labor in the coal industry focus on union struggles, Fishback discloses the beneficial impact of competition among employers for labor. He further examines the impact of legal environment and the development of institutions like company towns. Careful analysis using economic theory and statistics reveals numerous insights about the welfare of coal miners in the early 1900s. Unions helped miners obtain higher wages, but so did competition among employers. Employers were unable to exploit local and housing monopolies because the miners had the option of moving from town to town. Workers choosing between mining and other jobs faced a hard choice between similar alternatives. High hourly earnings and freedom from close supervision in mining helped compensate miners for accepting more risk of accidents and layoffs. The combination of narrative and analysis in Soft Coal, Hard Choices will interest historians, economists, and the general reader alike.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 290 pages
  • 164.8 x 243.8 x 27.2mm | 706.66g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line illustrations, tables
  • 0195067258
  • 9780195067255

Back cover copy

Did miners really owe their souls to the company store? Did they receive lower pay than in other jobs, despite the constant danger they faced? Was the quality of life in mining towns uniformly dismal? Soft Coal, Hard Choices answers these and other questions. The book contradicts many myths using evidence ranging from company records to oral histories to statistics collected by state and federal governments. While most studies of labor in the coal industry focus on union struggles, Fishback discloses the beneficial impact of competition among employers for labor. He further examines the impact of legal environment and the development of institutions like company towns. Careful analysis using economic theory and statistics reveals numerous insights about the welfare of coal miners in the early 1900s. Unions helped miners obtain higher wages, but so did competition among employers. Employers were unable to exploit local and housing monopolies because the miners had the option of moving from town to town. Workers choosing between mining and other jobs faced a hard choice between similar alternatives. High hourly earnings and freedom from close supervision in mining helped compensate miners for accepting more risk of accidents and layoffs. The combination of narrative and analysis in Soft Coal, Hard Choices will interest historians, economists, and the general reader alike.show more

Review quote

'a stimulating and lucid reassessment of a major area of US labour history ... this is an excellent example of historical economics ... There are very few British labour historians who would not benefit from reading this book. It is an impressive application of labour economics and statistics to the history of aspects of industrial relastions.' Chris Wrigley, Nottingham University, Business Historyshow more

Rating details

2 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 50% (1)
4 50% (1)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X