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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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Paper provided by Economie d'Avant Garde in its series Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports with number 4.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision: Apr 2004
Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:4
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.jeremygreenwood.net/EAG.htm

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  1. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 183-207, March.
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  4. David Andolfatto & Glenn M. MacDonald, 1998. "Technology Diffusion and Aggregate Dynamics," Working Papers 98005, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jan 1998.
  5. Robert E. Gallman, 1992. "American Economic Growth before the Civil War: The Testimony of the Capital Stock Estimates," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 79-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Andolfatto, D. & MacDonald, G.M., 1995. "Technological Innovation, Diffusion, and Business Cycle Dynamics," Working Papers 9503, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  8. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "The Population of the United States, 1790-1920," NBER Historical Working Papers 0056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Easterlin, Richard A., 1976. "Population Change and Farm Settlement in the Northern United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 45-75, March.
  10. Eckstein, Zvi & Stern, Steven & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1988. "Fertility Choice, Land, and the Malthusian Hypothesis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(2), pages 353-61, May.
  11. Steckel, Richard H., 1983. "The economic foundations of East-West migration during the 19th century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 14-36, January.
  12. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2002. "The baby boom and baby bust: some macroeconomics for population economics," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  13. Primack, Martin L., 1962. "Land Clearing Under Nineteenth-Century Techniques: Some Preliminary Calculations," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(04), pages 484-497, December.
  14. repec:fth:simfra:95-08 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521553087 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Primack, Martin L., 1969. "Farm Fencing in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(02), pages 287-291, June.
  17. Robert E. Gallman, 1986. "The United States Capital Stock in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 165-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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