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Explaining America's Surge in Manufactured Exports, 1880-1913

  • Douglas A. Irwin

    (Dartmouth College and NBER)

The United States became a net exporter of manufactured goods around 1910 after a dramatic surge in iron and steel exports began in the mid-1890s. This paper argues that natural-resource abundance fueled the expansion of iron and steel exports in part by enabling a sharp reduction in the price of U.S. exports relative to other competitors. The commercial exploitation of the Mesabi iron ore range, for example, reduced domestic ore prices by 50% in the mid-1890s and was equivalent to over a decade's worth of industry productivity improvement in its effect on iron and steel export prices. The nontradability of American ore resulted in its distinctive impact on the pattern of U.S. trade. The results are consistent with Wright's (1990) finding that U.S. manufactured exports were natural-resource-intensive at this time. © 2003 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 85 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 364-376

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:85:y:2003:i:2:p:364-376
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