The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation
We present a joint study of the U.S. structural transformation (the decline of agriculture as the dominating sector) and regional convergence (of southern to northern average wages). We find empirically that most of the regional convergence is attributable to the structural transformation: the nationwide convergence of agricultural wages to nonagricultural wages and the faster rate of transition of the southern labor force from agricultural to nonagricultural jobs. Similar results describe the Midwest's catch-up to the Northeast (but not the relative experience of the West). To explain these observations, we construct a model in which the South (Midwest) has a comparative advantage in producing unskilled laborintensive agricultural goods. Thus it starts with a disproportionate share of the unskilled labor force and lower per capita incomes. Over time, declining education/training costs induce an increasing proportion of the labor force to move out of the (unskilled) agricultural sector and into the (skilled) nonagricultural sector. The decline in the agricultural labor force leads to an increase in relative agricultural wages. Both effects benefit the South (Midwest) disproportionately since it has more agricultural workers. With the addition of a less than unit income elasticity of demand for farm goods and faster technological progress in farming than outside of farming, this model successfully matches the quantitative features of the U.S. structural transformation and regional convergence, as well as several other stylized facts on U.S. economic growth in the last century. The model does not rely on frictions on interregional labor and capital mobility, since in our empirical work we find this channel to be less important than the compositional effects the model emphasizes.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- anonymous, 1995. "Demographic changes produce new work-force issues," Economics Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Jul, pages 1-3.
- -, 1995. "Población, equidad y transformación productiva," Libros de la CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 35 edited by Cepal, March.
- Dale W. Jorgenson, 1995. "Productivity, Volume 1: Postwar US Economic Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100495, July.
- -, 1995. "Productividad de los pobres rurales y urbanos," Cuadernos de la CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 72 edited by Cepal.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:109:y:2001:i:3:p:584-616. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.