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Economic and Geographic Mobility on the Farming Frontier: Evidence from Appanoose County, Iowa 1850-1870

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  • David W. Galenson
  • Clayne L. Pope

Abstract

This paper investigates the characteristics of the early settlers on the midwestern farming frontier, the correlates of their geographic mobility, and the determinants of their wealth. Using evidence drawn from the manuscripts of the federal censuses of 1850-1870, we find average rates of growth of wealth over time that were considerably above the national average, a steeper cross-sectional relationship between wealth and age than those found for populations drawn more broadly from throughout the United States at the same time, and a substantial positive effect of early arrival on the frontier on wealth levels. These results suggest that very high levels of economic opportunity may have been a characteristic of the nineteenth-century farming frontier.

Suggested Citation

  • David W. Galenson & Clayne L. Pope, 1989. "Economic and Geographic Mobility on the Farming Frontier: Evidence from Appanoose County, Iowa 1850-1870," NBER Historical Working Papers 0004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0004
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    Cited by:

    1. Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck, 2009. "The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions," NBER Working Papers 14942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Livio Di Matteo, 2016. "Wealth Distribution and the Canadian Middle Class: Historical Evidence and Policy Implications," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(2), pages 132-151, June.
    3. Stewart, James I., 2006. "Migration to the agricultural frontier and wealth accumulation, 1860-1870," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 547-577, October.
    4. Lee, Chulhee, 2008. "Health, Information, and Migration: Geographic Mobility of Union Army Veterans, 1860–1880," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 862-899, September.
    5. Engerman, Stanley L. & Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 2005. "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 891-921, December.
    6. Chulhee Lee, 2003. "Health and Wealth Accumulation: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Working Papers 10035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Di Matteo, Livio, 1998. "Wealth Accumulation and the Life-Cycle in Economic History: Implications of Alternative Approaches to Data," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 296-324, July.
    8. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-004, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    9. Stewart, James I., 2012. "Migration to U.S. frontier cities and job opportunity, 1860–1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 528-542.
    10. Livio Di Matteo, 2008. "Wealth accumulation motives: evidence from the probate records of Ontario, 1892 and 1902," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 2(2), pages 143-171, July.
    11. Salisbury, Laura, 2014. "Selective migration, wages, and occupational mobility in nineteenth century America," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 40-63.
    12. Gary D. Libecap, 2018. "Property Rights to Frontier Land and Minerals: US Exceptionalism," NBER Working Papers 24544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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