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The Challenges of Economic Maturity: New England, 1880 - 1940

  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom

This paper provides an account of the complex changes taking place within New England in the years from 1880 to 1940. After 1880, technological changes and market shifts undermined the sources of comparative advantage that had promoted the concentration of textile and footwear production within the region and propelled regional economic growth. Despite the decline of these industries after 1880, New England's history after 1880 can hardly be characterized as one of economic decline. Regional economic growth did slow in the wake of these events, but the impact of this slowdown on living standards was moderated, by market driven adjustments in resources away from declining sectors, and by the region's increasing integration within national and international labor and financial markets. Within the region's traditional industries, manufacturers shifted product lines to take advantage of the areas in which they could still compete. At the same time, the growth of other manufacturing activities and an increasingly robust service sector created new employment opportunities that laid the foundation for the region's post-World War II recovery. The responsiveness of international and interregional labor migration moderated the growth of regional labor supplies in response to diminishing opportunities. Meanwhile, financial market integration enabled New Englanders to share in the benefits of more rapid growth elsewhere in the country.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0113.

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Date of creation: Feb 1999
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Publication status: published as Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England, Temin, Peter,ed., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0113
Note: DAE
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  1. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 2664307, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Wallis, John Joseph, 1991. "The Political Economy of New Deal Fiscal Federalism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(3), pages 510-24, July.
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  7. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
  8. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, June.
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  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521460965 is not listed on IDEAS
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