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Transportation and Development:Insights from the U.S. 1840-1860

Author

Listed:
  • Arilton Teixeira

    () (FUCAPE Business School)

  • Berthold Herrendorf

    (Arizona State University)

  • James A. Schmitz Jr.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)

Abstract

We study the effects of large transportation costs on economic development. Since reliable data for developing countries are hard to come by, we go back in time to the Midwest and the Northeast of the U.S. This is a natural case to study because starting from 1840 decent data is available showing that the two regions shared key characteristics with today's developing countries and that transportation costs were large and then came way down. To disentangle the effects of the large reduction in transportation costs from those of other changes that happened during 1840{1860, we build a model that speaks to the distribution of people across regions and across the sectors of production. We find that the large reduction in transportation costs was a quantitatively important force behind the settlement of the Midwest and the regional specialization that concentrated agriculture in the Midwest and industry in the Northeast. Moreover, we find that it led to the convergence of the regional per capita incomes measured in current regional prices and that it increased real GDP per capita. However, the increase in real GDP per capita is considerably smaller than that resulting from the productivity growth in the nontransportation sectors.

Suggested Citation

  • Arilton Teixeira & Berthold Herrendorf & James A. Schmitz Jr., 2009. "Transportation and Development:Insights from the U.S. 1840-1860," Fucape Working Papers 18, Fucape Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:bbz:fcpwps:18
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    File URL: http://www.fucape.br/_public/workingpapers/18-2009.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2011. "Transportation Costs, Agricultural Productivity, And Cross‐Country Income Differences," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 489-521, May.
    2. Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2008. "The U.S. Westward Expansion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 81-110, February.
    3. Thomas Weiss, 1987. "The Farm Labor Force by Region, 1820-1860: Revised Estimates and Implications for Growth," NBER Working Papers 2438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Akos Valentinyi & Berthold Herrendorf, 2008. "Measuring Factor Income Shares at the Sector Level," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 820-835, October.
    5. Coelho, Philip R. P. & Shepherd, James F., 1976. "Regional differences in real wages: The United States, 1851-1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 203-230, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Dave Donaldson & Richard Hornbeck, 2016. "Railroads and American Economic Growth: A "Market Access" Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 799-858.
    2. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Redding, Stephen, 2014. "External integration, structural transformation and economic development: evidence from Argentina," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Felis-Rota, Marta, 2014. "A VAR Analysis of the Transportation Revolution in Europe," Working Papers in Economic History 2014/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    4. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Redding, Stephen J., 2014. "External Integration, Structural Transformation and Economic Development: Evidence from Argentina 1870-1914," CEPR Discussion Papers 10026, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Tombe, Trevor, 2011. "Structural change and regional convergence: the case of declining transport costs," MPRA Paper 34053, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Berthold Herrendorf & Richard Rogerson & ?kos Valentinyi, 2013. "Two Perspectives on Preferences and Structural Transformation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2752-2789, December.
    7. Pérez-Cervantes Fernando, 2014. "Railroads and Economic Growth: A Trade Policy Approach," Working Papers 2014-14, Banco de México.
    8. Paul Caruana-Galizia & Jordi Mart�-Henneberg, 2013. "European regional railways and real income, 1870-1910: a preliminary report," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 61(2), pages 167-196, June.
    9. Tombe, Trevor, 2010. "Regions, frictions, and migrations in a model of structural transformation," MPRA Paper 26641, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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