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The Sources of Regional Variation in the Severity of the Great Depression: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing, 1919–1937

  • Rosenbloom, Joshua L.
  • Sundstrom, William A.

The severity of the Great Depression in the United States varied by region. Most notably compared with the rest of the country, the South Atlantic states experienced a milder contraction while the Mountain states suffered more severely. The impact of the contraction was more" uniform across other regions of the country--surprisingly so, considering the large regional" differences in industrial structure. We employ data from the biennial Census of Manufactures on" 20 individual manufacturing industries disaggregated by state to analyze the relative" contributions of industry mix and location to regional variations in economic performance during" the period 1919-1937. Industrial composition had a significant impact on regional employment" growth, with regions that concentrated on the production of durable goods or inputs to the" construction sector tending to fare worse than others. Long-run regional trends also played an" important role in regional variation, and explain much of the South Atlantic region's more" favorable performance over the cycle.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 59 (1999)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 714-747

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:59:y:1999:i:03:p:714-747_02
Contact details of provider: Postal: Cambridge University Press, UPH, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8BS UK
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  1. Robert A. Margo, 1992. "Employment and Unemployment in the 1930s," NBER Working Papers 4174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  3. Todd Clark, 1992. "Business cycle fluctuations in U.S. regions and industries: the roles of national, region-specific, and industry-specific shocks," Research Working Paper 92-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Romer, Christina D, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624, August.
  5. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  6. Marimon, Ramon & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1996. "'Actual' versus 'Virtual' Employment in Europe: Is Spain Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1427, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Simon, Curtis J & Nardinelli, Clark, 1992. "Does Industrial Diversity Always Reduce Unemployment? Evidence from the Great Depression and After," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(2), pages 384-97, April.
  8. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
  9. Charles W. Calomiris, 1993. "Financial Factors in the Great Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 61-85, Spring.
  10. Field, Alexander James, 1992. "Uncontrolled Land Development and the Duration of the Depression in the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 785-805, December.
  11. Wallis, John Joseph, 1989. "Employment in the Great Depression: New data and hypotheses," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 45-72, January.
  12. Schmitz, Mark & Fishback, Price V., 1983. "The Distribution of the Income in the Great Depression: Preliminary State Estimates," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(01), pages 217-230, March.
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