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The Role of Exports in the Economy of Colonial North America: New Estimates for the Middle Colonies

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  • Peter C. Mancall

    (University of Southern California)

  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom

    (Department of Economics, The University of Kansas)

  • Thomas Weiss

    (Department of Economics, The University of Kansas)

Abstract

Economic historians of the eighteenth-century British mainland North American colonies have given considerable weight to the role of exports as a stimulus for economic growth. Yet their analyses have been handicapped by reliance on one or two time series to serve as indicators of broader changes rather than considering the export sector as a whole. Here we construct comprehensive export measures for the middle colonies. We find that aggregate exports did grow quickly but that this expansion failed to keep pace with population growth during much of the period under consideration. We argue this result challenges the export staples model on the role of foreign demand as a stimulus for economic growth. Instead, these results emphasize the impact of resource abundance and labor and capital scarcity as the defining characteristics of colonial economic growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Kansas, Department of Economics in its series WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS with number 200806.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision: Sep 2008
Handle: RePEc:kan:wpaper:200806

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  1. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1.
  2. Abramovitz, Moses, 1993. "The Search for the Sources of Growth: Areas of Ignorance, Old and New," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 217-243, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "American Incomes before and after the Revolution," NBER Working Papers 17211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2012. "American Incomes 1774-1860," NBER Working Papers 18396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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