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Engel versus Baumol: Accounting for structural change using two centuries of U.S. data

  • Dennis, Benjamin N.
  • Iscan, Talan B.

In the last two centuries, the reallocation of labor out of agriculture has been a dominant feature of structural change and economic growth in the United States. This paper uses an accounting framework founded in economic theory to decompose this reallocation into three components: a demand-side effect due to the low income elasticity of demand for agricultural goods (Engel effect), and two supply-side effects, one due to differential sectoral productivity growth rates (Baumol effect), and the other to differential capital deepening. The results show that the Engel effect accounts for almost all labor reallocation until the 1950s, after which the Baumol effect becomes a key determinant. Our framework provides a unified account of long-run structural change, and demonstrates that historical interpretations and theoretical models that emphasize only one dimension of this process cannot properly account for the dramatic history of labor reallocation in the United States.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 46 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 186-202

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:46:y:2009:i:2:p:186-202
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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  1. Benjamin N. Dennis & Talan Iscan, 2007. "Accounting for Structural Change: Evidence from Two Centuries of U.S. Data," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive account7, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  2. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher Pissarides, 2007. "Structural change in a multi-sector model of growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4468, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Victor R. Fuchs, 1968. "The Service Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch68-1, October.
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  5. Robert E. Gallman & Thomas J. Weiss, 1969. "The Service Industries in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters, in: Production and Productivity in the Service Industries, pages 287-381 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sergio Rebelo & Piyabha Kongsamut & Danyang Xie, 2001. "Beyond Balanced Growth," IMF Working Papers 01/85, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 584-616, June.
  8. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert A. Margo, 2005. "Capital deepening and the rise of the factory: the American experience during the nineteenth century -super-1 ," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 58(3), pages 586-595, 08.
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  10. Daron Acemoglu & Veronica Guerrieri, 2006. "Capital Deepening and Non-Balanced Economic Growth," 2006 Meeting Papers 207, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Dennis, Benjamin N. & Iscan, Talan B., 2007. "Productivity growth and agricultural out-migration in the United States," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 52-74, March.
  12. Echevarria, Cristina, 1997. "Changes in Sectoral Composition Associated with Economic Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(2), pages 431-52, May.
  13. Young, Andrew T., 2010. "One of the things we know that ain't so: Is US labor's share relatively stable?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 90-102, March.
  14. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, October.
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  16. D. Gale Johnson, 2002. "Comment on "The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1414-1418, December.
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  18. Robert E. Gallman, 1986. "The United States Capital Stock in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 165-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Perez, Stephen J & Siegler, Mark V, 2003. " Inflationary Expectations and the Fisher Effect prior to World War I," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(6), pages 947-65, December.
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