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Commodity Exports, Invisible Exports and Terms of Trade for the Middle Colonies, 1720 to 1775

Author

Listed:
  • Peter Mancall
  • Joshua Rosenbloom
  • Thomas J. Weiss

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 present new comprehensive export measures for the middle colonies. We find that aggregate exports in constant prices grew very quickly, but barely faster than population during the period under consideration. Furthermore, improvements in the terms of trade increased the colonists' ability to buy imports over time, especially after 1740. Although the export sector performed well, it constituted a relatively small part of the region's economy. It is uncertain if this export success was sufficient to propel the entire economy at a rate that exceeded the growth of population.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Mancall & Joshua Rosenbloom & Thomas J. Weiss, 2008. "Commodity Exports, Invisible Exports and Terms of Trade for the Middle Colonies, 1720 to 1775," NBER Working Papers 14334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14334
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14334.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shepherd, James F. & Williamson, Samuel H., 1972. "The Coastal Trade of the British North American Colonies, 1768–1772," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(04), pages 783-810, December.
    2. McCusker, John J., 1972. "Sources of Investment Capital in the Colonial Philadelphia Shipping Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 146-157, March.
    3. Mancall, Peter C. & Weiss, Thomas, 1999. "Was Ecomomic Growth Likely in Colonial British North America?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 17-40, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2016. "American colonial incomes, 1650–1774," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(1), pages 54-77, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N21 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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