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The Role of Exports in the Economy of Colonial North America: New Estimates for the Middle Colonies

Author

Listed:
  • Peter C. Mancall

    (University of Southern California)

  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom

    (Department of Economics, The University of Kansas)

  • Thomas Weiss

    (Department of Economics, The University of Kansas)

Abstract

Economic historians of the eighteenth-century British mainland North American colonies have given considerable weight to the role of exports as a stimulus for economic growth. Yet their analyses have been handicapped by reliance on one or two time series to serve as indicators of broader changes rather than considering the export sector as a whole. Here we construct comprehensive export measures for the middle colonies. We find that aggregate exports did grow quickly but that this expansion failed to keep pace with population growth during much of the period under consideration. We argue this result challenges the export staples model on the role of foreign demand as a stimulus for economic growth. Instead, these results emphasize the impact of resource abundance and labor and capital scarcity as the defining characteristics of colonial economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter C. Mancall & Joshua L. Rosenbloom & Thomas Weiss, 2008. "The Role of Exports in the Economy of Colonial North America: New Estimates for the Middle Colonies," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 200806, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:kan:wpaper:200806
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    File URL: http://www2.ku.edu/~kuwpaper/2008Papers/200806.pdf
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:63:y:1969:i:03:p:880-899_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:63:y:1969:i:03:p:880-899_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1, June.
    4. Abramovitz, Moses, 1993. "The Search for the Sources of Growth: Areas of Ignorance, Old and New," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 217-243, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2012. "American Incomes 1774-1860," NBER Working Papers 18396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2013. "American Incomes Before and After the Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(03), pages 725-765, September.

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