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Labor Scarcity and the Problem of American Industrial Efficiency in the 1850's

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  • Temin, Peter

Abstract

Europeans have been coming to America and commenting about the nature of American technology for over a century. Despite the evident economic changes in the course of this century, the comments on the differences between American and European technology—or, more properly for the nineteenth century, on the differences between American and British technology—have stayed remarkably constant. The factors noted by a few British visitors of the 1850's, perhaps the first technically qualified foreign group to take a careful look at American manufacturing, still form the backbone of discussion today. Chief among the factors noted is the high cost of American labor, but this explanation of American peculiarities by no means stands alone.

Suggested Citation

  • 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(3), pages 277-298, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:26:y:1966:i:03:p:277-298_06
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    Cited by:

    1. Haiwen Zhou, 2019. "Resource abundance, market size, and the choice of technology," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 641-656, October.
    2. Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Economics, science, and the British industrial revolution," Working Papers 7004, Economic History Society.
    3. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1999. "The Heckscher-Ohlin Model Between 1400 and 2000: When It Explained Factor Price Convergence, When It Did Not, and Why," NBER Working Papers 7411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Monnet, Eric, 2019. "Interest rates," CEPR Discussion Papers 13896, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Bliss, Christopher, 2007. "Trade, Growth, and Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199204649.
    6. Gavin Wright, 1999. "Can a Nation Learn? American Technology as a Network Phenomenon," NBER Chapters, in: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries, pages 295-332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mark Koyama, 2009. "The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From the Black Death to the Industrious Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _078, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    8. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson & T. J. Hatton, 1993. "Mass migration, commodity market integration and real wage convergence : the late nineteenth century Atlantic economy," Working Papers 199325, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    9. Knick Harley, 2003. "Growth theory and industrial revolutions in Britain and America," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(4), pages 809-831, November.
    10. Paolo Malanima, 2020. "The limiting factor: energy, growth, and divergence, 1820–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 73(2), pages 486-512, May.
    11. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2020. "Connecting the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions: The Role of Practical Mathematics," Working Papers 202017, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    13. James, John A. & Skinner, Jonathan S., 1985. "The Resolution of the Labor-Scarcity Paradox," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 513-540, September.
    14. Stephen N. Broadberry & Douglas A. Irwin, 2004. "Labor Productivity in Britain and America During the Nineteenth Century," NBER Working Papers 10364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Christopher Bliss, 2003. "A Specific‐Factors Model with Historical Application," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 268-278, May.
    16. Jong, H. de & Woltjer, P., 2009. "A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-108, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    17. Barry Eichengreen, 2013. "ADB Distinguished Lecture Renminbi Internationalization: Tempest in a Teapot?," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 30(1), pages 148-164, March.
    18. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 363-389, August.
    19. James Bessen, 2009. "More Machines, Better Machines...Or Better Workers?," Working Papers 0803, Research on Innovation.
    20. Peter Temin, 2007. "The Rate of Time Preference in the United States Government," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 51(2), pages 8-15, October.

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