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The U.S. Westward Expansion

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Abstract

Some facts characterizing the U.S. economic development in the 19th century are: (i) the westward movement of population; (ii) the accumulation of productive land; and (iii) the wage gap in favor of the West. An overlapping-generations model is developed, to account for these facts. The model's novelty is the presence of a fixed amount of land, initially unsuitable for production, but that can be improved. Historical evidence on productivity in land-improvement activities is used to calibrate the model's parameters. The model accounts for the regional distribution of population and the path of the stock of developed land. The main factor driving the Westward Expansion is population growth. International immigration is found to contribute little to the opening of the West.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2003. "The U.S. Westward Expansion," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 4, Economie d'Avant Garde, revised Apr 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:4
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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth Caucutt & Thomas Cooley & Nezih Guner, 2013. "The farm, the city, and the emergence of social security," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 1-32, March.
    2. Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2008. "The American Frontier: Technology versus Immigration," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 283-301, April.
    3. Berthold Herrendorf & James A. Schmitz & Arilton Teixeira, 2009. "Transportation and development: insights from the U.S., 1840-1860," Staff Report 425, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Klein, Paul & Ventura, Gustavo, 2009. "Productivity differences and the dynamic effects of labor movements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1059-1073, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    westward expansion; land-improvement; migration;

    JEL classification:

    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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