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The U.S. Westward Expansion

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Abstract

Some facts characterizing the U.S. economic development in the 19th century are: (i) the westward movement of population; (ii) the accumulation of productive land; and (iii) the wage gap in favor of the West. An overlapping-generations model is developed, to account for these facts. The model's novelty is the presence of a fixed amount of land, initially unsuitable for production, but that can be improved. Historical evidence on productivity in land-improvement activities is used to calibrate the model's parameters. The model accounts for the regional distribution of population and the path of the stock of developed land. The main factor driving the Westward Expansion is population growth. International immigration is found to contribute little to the opening of the West.

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File URL: http://guillaumevdb.net/West_Web.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economie d'Avant Garde in its series Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports with number 4.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision: Apr 2004
Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:4

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Web page: http://www.jeremygreenwood.net/EAG.htm

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Keywords: westward expansion; land-improvement; migration;

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References

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  1. Easterlin, Richard A., 1976. "Population Change and Farm Settlement in the Northern United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 45-75, March.
  2. Eckstein, Zvi & Stern, Steven & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1988. "Fertility Choice, Land, and the Malthusian Hypothesis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(2), pages 353-61, May.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2002. "The baby boom and baby bust: some macroeconomics for population economics," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
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  6. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 183-207, March.
  7. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "The Population of the United States, 1790-1920," NBER Historical Working Papers 0056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:fth:simfra:95-08 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Engerman,Stanley L. & Gallman,Robert E. (ed.), 2000. "The Cambridge Economic History of the United States," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521553087, December.
  10. Andolfatto, D. & MacDonald, G.M., 1995. "Technological Innovation, Diffusion, and Business Cycle Dynamics," Working Papers 9503, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
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  12. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Staff Report 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Robert E. Gallman, 1992. "American Economic Growth before the Civil War: The Testimony of the Capital Stock Estimates," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 79-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Steckel, Richard H., 1983. "The economic foundations of East-West migration during the 19th century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 14-36, January.
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  17. Primack, Martin L., 1969. "Farm Fencing in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(02), pages 287-291, June.
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  1. The 19th century westward expansion of the U.S.
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-05-09 02:14:00
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Cited by:
  1. Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2008. "The American Frontier: Technology versus Immigration," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 283-301, April.
  2. Caucutt, Elizabeth & Cooley, Thomas F & Guner, Nezih, 2007. "The Farm, the City and the Emergence of Social Security," CEPR Discussion Papers 6131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Klein, Paul & Ventura, Gustavo, 2009. "Productivity differences and the dynamic effects of labor movements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1059-1073, November.
  4. Berthold Herrendorf & James A. Schmitz & Arilton Teixeira, 2009. "Transportation and development: insights from the U.S., 1840-1860," Staff Report 425, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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