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