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The Relative Productivity Hypothesis of Industrialization: The American Case, 1820 to 1850

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  • Claudia Goldin

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kenneth Sokoloff

    (UCLA)

Abstract

A two-sector model is used to explore the role of the agricultural sector in the process of industrialization. Our hypothesis is that areas industrialize earlier where the wages for females and children relative to those for adult males are initially low. Furthermore, the lower this relative productivity of females and children in the pre-industrial economy, the proportionately more will their relative wages increase, and the higher will be the ratio of manufactured to agricultural goods. The model is used to interpret the conditions that fostered the rapid industrialization of the American Northeast, but not the South, from 1820 to 1850.
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Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1981. "The Relative Productivity Hypothesis of Industrialization: The American Case, 1820 to 1850," UCLA Economics Working Papers 217, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:217
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Metzer, Jacob, 1975. "Rational management, modern business practices, and economies of scale in the ante-bellum southern plantations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 123-150, April.
    2. Gavin Wright, 1981. "Cheap Labor and Southern Textiles, 1880–1930," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 96(4), pages 605-629.
    3. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 741-774, December.
    4. Wright, Gavin, 1979. "Cheap Labor and Southern Textiles before 1880," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 655-680, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 1-31, March.
    2. Frédéric Docquier & Tobias Müller & Joaquín Naval, 2017. "Informality and Long-Run Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 119(4), pages 1040-1085, October.
    3. Ager, Philipp & Brückner, Markus & Herz, Benedikt, 2014. "Effects of Agricultural Productivity Shocks on Female Labor Supply: Evidence from the Boll Weevil Plague in the US South," MPRA Paper 59410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Claudia Olivetti, 2014. "The Female Labor Force and Long-Run Development: The American Experience in Comparative Perspective," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 161-197 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2006. "Endogenous skill bias in technology adoption: city-level evidence from the IT revolution," Working Paper Series 2006-24, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    6. Luc Behaghel & Julie Moschion, 2011. "Skilled labor supply, IT-based technical change and job instability," PSE Working Papers halshs-00646595, HAL.
    7. Gillian Hamilton, 1999. "The Decline of Apprenticeship in North America: Evidence from Montreal," Working Papers hamiltng-99-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    8. Luc Behaghel & Julie Moschion, 2011. "Skilled labor supply, IT-based technical change and job instability," Working Papers halshs-00646595, HAL.
    9. Alex Mourmouras & Peter Rangazas, 2009. "Reconciling Kuznets and Habbakuk in a unified growth theory," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 149-181, June.
    10. Joseph P. Kaboski & Trevon D. Logan, 2011. "Factor Endowments and the Returns to Skill: New Evidence from the American Past," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 111-152.
    11. Unte, Pia & Kemper, Niels, 2015. "Culture and the formation of gender-specific skills in an agrarian society," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113002, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Rising Wage Dispersion Across American Manufacturing Establishments, 1850-1880," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0036, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    13. Björn Eriksson & Maria Stanfors, 2015. "A winning strategy? The employment of women and firm longevity during industrialisation," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(7), pages 988-1004, October.
    14. Charles W. Calomiris & Christopher Hanes, 1994. "Historical Macroeconomics and American Macroeconomic History," NBER Working Papers 4935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:eee:exehis:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:94-105 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Sokoloff, Kenneth L. & Tchakerian, Viken, 1997. "Manufacturing Where Agriculture Predominates: Evidence from the South and Midwest in 1860," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 243-264, July.
    17. Sukkoo Kim, 2006. "Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1880," NBER Working Papers 12246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. William Lord & Peter Rangazas, 2006. "Fertility and development: the roles of schooling and family production," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 229-261, September.
    19. Kim, Sukkoo, 2004. "Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt4hd75171, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.
    20. Martin Fiszbein, 2017. "Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S," NBER Working Papers 23183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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