Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-60
AbstractFor generations of scholars and observers, the "transportation revolution," especially the railroad, has loomed large as a dominant factor in the settlement and development of the United States in the nineteenth century. There has, however, been considerable debate as to whether transportation improvements led economic development or simply followed. Using a newly developed GIS transportation database we examine this issue in the context of the American Midwest, focusing on two indicators of broader economic change, population density and the fraction of population living in urban areas. Our difference in differences estimates (supported by IV robustness checks) strongly suggest that the coming of the railroad had little or no impact upon population densities just as Albert Fishlow concluded some 40 years ago. BUT, our results also imply that the railroad was the "cause" of midwestern urbanization, accounting for more than half of the increase in the fraction of population living in urban areas during the 1850s.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14640.
Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
- N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
- O14 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
- O18 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-01-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-GEO-2009-01-17 (Economic Geography)
- NEP-HIS-2009-01-17 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-URE-2009-01-17 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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- Did railroads induce or follow economic growth?
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-06-25 18:52:00
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