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Portage and path dependence

  • Hoyt Bleakley
  • Jeffrey Lin

The authors examine portage sites in the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including those on the fall line, a geomorphological feature in the southeastern U.S. marking the final rapids on rivers before the ocean. Historically, waterborne transport of goods required portage around the falls at these points, while some falls provided water power during early industrialization. These factors attracted commerce and manufacturing. Although these original advantages have long since been made obsolete, the authors document the continuing importance of these portage sites over time. They interpret these results as path dependence and contrast explanations based on sunk costs interacting with decreasing versus increasing returns to scale.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 11-38.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:11-38
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  1. Thomas J. Holmes & Sanghoon Lee, 2009. "Economies of density versus natural advantage: crop choice on the back forty," Working Papers 668, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Rauch, James E, 1993. "Does History Matter Only When It Matters Little? The Case of City-Industry Location," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 843-67, August.
  3. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  4. Bester, C. Alan & Conley, Timothy G. & Hansen, Christian B., 2011. "Inference with dependent data using cluster covariance estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 165(2), pages 137-151.
  5. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. " The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
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