The Impact of Access to Rail Transportation on Agricultural Improvement: The American Midwest as a Test Case, 1850-1860
AbstractDuring the 1850s, land in U.S. farms increased by more than a third—100 million acres—and almost 50 million acres, an area almost equal to that of the states of Indiana and Ohio combined, were converted from their raw, natural state into productive farmland. The time and expense of transforming this land into a productive agricultural resource represented a significant fraction of domestic capital formation at the time and was an important contributor to American economic growth. Even more impressive, however, was the fact that almost half of these total net additions to cropland occurred in just seven Midwestern states which comprised somewhat less than one-eighth of the land area of the country at that time. Using a new GIS-based transportation database linked to county-level census data, we estimate that at least a quarter (and possibly two-thirds or more) of this increase in cultivable land can be linked directly to the coming of the railroad to the Midwest. Farmers responded to the shrinking transportation wedge which raised agricultural revenue productivity by rapidly expanding the area under cultivation and these changes, in turn, drove rising farm and land values.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota in its journal The Journal of Transport and Land Use.
Volume (Year): 4 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Railroads; Development; Midwest; Nineteenth century; Networks; Agriculture; Density;
Other versions of this item:
- Robert A. Margo & Jeremy Atack, 2010. "The Impact of Access to Rail Transportation on Agricultural Improvement: The American Midwest as a Test Case, 1850-1860," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2010-026, Boston University - Department of Economics.
- R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Feng Xie & David Levinson, 2008.
"How Streetcars Shaped Suburbanization: A Granger-Casality Analysis of Land Use and Transit in The Twin Cities,"
201003, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
- Feng Xie & David Levinson, 2010. "How streetcars shaped suburbanization: a Granger causality analysis of land use and transit in the Twin Cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 453-470, May.
- David Levinson, 2007.
"Density and Dispersion: The Co-Development of Land use and Rail in London,"
200801, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
- David Levinson, 2008. "Density and dispersion: the co-development of land use and rail in London," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 55-77, January.
- Primack, Martin L., 1962. "Land Clearing Under Nineteenth-Century Techniques: Some Preliminary Calculations," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(04), pages 484-497, December.
- Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Michael Haines & Robert A. Margo, 2009.
"Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-60,"
NBER Working Papers
14640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Michael Haines & Robert A. Margo, 2009. "Did Railroads Induce Or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization And Population Growth In The American Midwest, 1850-60," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-178, Boston University - Department of Economics.
- Jeremy Atack & Matthew S. Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2014.
"Did Railroads Make Antebellum U.S. Banks More Sound?,"
NBER Working Papers
20032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeremy Atack & Matthew S. Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2014. "Did Railroads Make Antebellum U.S. Banks More Sound?," NBER Chapters, in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2014. "Introduction to "Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective"," NBER Chapters, in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Berger, Thor & Enflo, Kerstin, 2014.
"Locomotives of Local Growth: The Short- and Long-Term Impact of Railroads in Sweden,"
Lund Papers in Economic History
132, Department of Economic History, Lund University.
- Thor Berger & Kerstin Enflo, 2013. "Locomotives of Local Growth: The Short- and Long-Term Impact of Railroads in Sweden," Working Papers 0042, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
- Dave Donaldson & Richard Hornbeck, 2013. "Railroads and American Economic Growth: A “Market Access” Approach," NBER Working Papers 19213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Arlene Mathison).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.