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Early twentieth century American exceptionalism on wheels: the role of rapid automobile adoption in economic development

Author

Listed:
  • Dong Cheng

    (Union College)

  • Alyssa Trebino

    (Willis Towers Watson)

Abstract

We investigate the contribution of automobile adoption to state-level real income in the United States using hand-collected historical data of the early twentieth century when the adoption was remarkably rapid. To achieve identification, we construct a Bartik-type instrumental variable for automobile adoption. We find an elasticity of income with respect to automobile adoption between 0.5 and 1. Furthermore, we reveal that the elasticity is significantly larger in high-income and automobile producing states.

Suggested Citation

  • Dong Cheng & Alyssa Trebino, 2021. "Early twentieth century American exceptionalism on wheels: the role of rapid automobile adoption in economic development," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 211-221, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:lsprsc:v:14:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s12076-021-00273-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s12076-021-00273-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Allen, Robert C., 2014. "American Exceptionalism as a Problem in Global History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 309-350, June.
    2. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 328-335, May.
    3. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2004. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 39-83, January.
    4. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    5. Fernandez-Cornejo, Jorge & Hendricks, Chad & Mishra, Ashok, 2005. "Technology Adoption and Off-Farm Household Income: The Case of Herbicide-Tolerant Soybeans," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(3), pages 549-563, December.
    6. Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2010. "Microeconomics of Technology Adoption," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 395-424, September.
    7. Dong Cheng & Mario J Crucini & Hyunseung Oh & Hakan Yilmazkuday, 2019. "Early 20th century American exceptionalism: Production, trade and diffusion of the automobile," CAMA Working Papers 2019-58, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Automobile; Technology adoption; Income;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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