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Portage: path dependence and increasing returns in U.S. history

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  • Hoyt Bleakley
  • Jeffrey Lin.

Abstract

The authors examine portage sites in the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including those on the fall line, a geomorphologic feature in the southeastern U.S. marking the final rapids on rivers before the ocean. Historically, waterborne transport of goods required portage around the falls at these points, while some falls provided water power during early industrialization. These factors attracted commerce and manufacturing. Although these original advantages have long since been made obsolete, the authors document the continuing-and even increasing-importance of these portage sites over time. They interpret this finding in a model with path dependence arising from local increasing returns to scale.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 10-27.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:10-27

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Keywords: Geography ; Urban economics;

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  1. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
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Cited by:
  1. Klaus Desmet & Esteban Rossi-Hansbergh, 2011. "Urban Accounting and Welfare," Vives discussion paper series 19, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen, Vives.
  2. Rafael González-Val & Jose Olmo, 2011. "Growth in a cross-section of cities: location, increasing returns or random growth?," Working Papers 2011/39, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  3. Jeffrey Lin, 2012. "Geography, history, economies of density, and the location of cities," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q3, pages 18-24.
  4. Hallegatte, Stephane & Shah, Ankur & Lempert, Robert & Brown, Casey & Gill, Stuart, 2012. "Investment decision making under deep uncertainty -- application to climate change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6193, The World Bank.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser, 2012. "Urban Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 18244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Amanda Ross & Shawn Rohlin, 2013. "State Bankruptcy Law and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from a Border Analysis," ERSA conference papers ersa13p253, European Regional Science Association.
  7. Sturm, Daniel & Ahlfeldt, Gabriel & Redding, Stephen & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2013. "The Economics of Density: Evidence from the Berlin Wall," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79873, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  8. Matti Sarvimäki, 2011. "Agglomeration in the Periphery," SERC Discussion Papers 0080, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.

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  1. Historical Economic Geography

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