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Mass Migration, Commodity Market Integration, and Real Wage Convergence: The Late Nineteenth Century Atlantic Economy

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Author Info

  • O'Rourke, K.
  • Williamson, J.G.
  • Hatton, T.J.

Abstract

As part of a process that has been at work since 1850, real wages among the current OECD countries converged during the late 19th century. The convergence was pronounced as that which we have seen in the post World War Il period. This paper uses computable general equilibrium models to isolate the sources of that economic convergence by assessing the relative performance of the two most important economies in the Old World and the New -- Britain and the USA. It turns out that between 1870 and 1910, the convergence forces that mattered were those that generated by commodity price convergence, stresses by Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin, and mass migration, stressed by Knut Wicksell. It turns out that offsetting forces were contributing to late 19th century divergence, a finding consistent with economic historians' traditional attention to Britain's alleged failure and America's spectacular rise to industrial supremacy. The convergence forces, however, dominated for most of the period.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1640.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1640

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Keywords: migration ; wages;

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References

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  1. Temin, Peter, 1966. "Labor Scarcity and the Problem of American Industrial Efficiency in the 1850's," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 277-298, September.
  2. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  3. Greenwood, Michael J & McDowell, John M, 1986. "The Factor Market Consequences of U.S. Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1738-72, December.
  4. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
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  6. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
  7. J. Bradford De Long, . "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: Comment," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _129, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  8. North, Douglass, 1958. "Ocean Freight Rates and Economic Development 1730-1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(04), pages 537-555, December.
  9. Harley, C.K., 1988. "Ocean Freight Rates And Productivity, 1740-1913: The Primacy Of Mechanical Invention Reaffirmed," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8802, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  10. Borjas, George J, 1991. "Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market: 1940-80," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 287-91, May.
  11. Crafts, Nicholas & Thomas, Stephen H, 1985. "Comparative Advantage in UK Manufacturing Trade, 1910-1935," CEPR Discussion Papers 83, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Knick Harley, C., 1980. "Transportation, the world wheat trade, and the Kuznets Cycle, 1850-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 218-250, July.
  13. Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "Capital Formation and Productivity Convergence over the Long Term," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 565-79, June.
  14. DONALD N. McCLOSKEY, 1970. "Did Victorian Britain Fail?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 23(3), pages 446-459, December.
  15. Kelley, Allen C, 1988. "Economic Consequences of Population Change in the Third World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 1685-1728, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1996. "The Extent of the Labor Market in the United States, 1850-1914," NBER Historical Working Papers 0078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hatton, Timothy J. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 1998. "Migration, Migrants and Policy in the United Kingdom," CEPR Discussion Papers 1960, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2009. "Does migration lead to economic convergence in an enlarged European market?," Bank i Kredyt, National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute, vol. 40(4), pages 71-87.
  4. Coulombe, Serge & Lee, Frank C., 1998. "Évolution à long terme de la convergence régionale au Canada," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 74(1), pages 5-27, mars.
  5. Mario Sanchez, 2003. "Internal Migration, Return Migration, and Mortality. Evidence from Panel Data on Union Army Veterans," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Labor Force Participation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from the Past, pages 203-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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