The U.S. Westward Expansion
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.
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