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The optimal tax on antebellum US cotton exports

  • Irwin, Douglas A.

The United States produced about 80 percent of the world's cotton in the decades prior to the Civil War. How much monopoly power did the United States possess in the world cotton market and what would have been the effect of an optimal export tax? This paper estimates the elasticity of foreign demand for U.S. cotton exports and uses the elasticity in a simple partial equilibrium model to calculate the optimal export tax and its effect on prices, trade, and welfare. The results indicate that the export demand elasticity for U.S. cotton was about -1.7 and that the optimal export tax of about 50 percent would have raised U.S. welfare by about $6 million, about 0.1 percent of U.S. GDP or about 0.5 percent of the South's GDP.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 60 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 275-291

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:60:y:2003:i:2:p:275-291
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  1. David G. Surdam, 1998. "King Cotton: Monarch or Pretender? The State of the Market for Raw Cotton on the Eve of the American Civil War," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 51(1), pages 113-132, 02.
  2. Shah, Shekhar & Mishra, Deepak & Panagariya, Arvind, 1996. "Demand elasticities in international trade : are they really low?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1712, The World Bank.
  3. Harley, C. Knick, 1992. "The antebellum American tariff: Food exports and manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 375-400, October.
  4. Duffy, Patricia A. & Shalishali, Kasazi & Kinnucan, Henry W., 1994. "Acreage Response Under Farm Programs For Major Southeastern Field Crops," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 26(02), December.
  5. Wright, Gavin, 1971. "An Econometric Study of Cotton Production and Trade, 1830-1860," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 53(2), pages 111-20, May.
  6. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "Cotton Competition and the Post-Bellum Recovery of the American South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(03), pages 610-635, September.
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  8. Wahl, Thomas I. & Hayes, Dermot J., 1990. "Demand System Estimation with Upward-Sloping Supply," Staff General Research Papers 292, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. James, John A, 1981. "The Optimal Tariff in the Antebellum United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 726-34, September.
  10. Brown, Drusilla K., 1987. "Tariffs, the terms of trade, and national product differentiation," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 503-526.
  11. Alston, Julian M & Foster, Kenneth A & Green, Richard D, 1994. "Estimating Elasticities with the Linear Approximate Almost Ideal Demand System: Some Monte Carlo Results," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 351-56, May.
  12. Huertas, Thomas F., 1979. "Damnifying Growth in the Antebellum South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(01), pages 87-100, March.
  13. Van Duyne, Carl, 1975. "Commodity Cartels and the Theory of Derived Demand," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 597-612.
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  15. Lloyd A. Metzler, 1949. "Tariffs, the Terms of Trade, and the Distribution of National Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57, pages 1.
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