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Railroads and the Rise of the Factory: Evidence for the United States, 1850-70

  • Jeremy Atack
  • Michael R. Haines
  • Robert A. Margo

Over the course of the nineteenth century manufacturing in the United States shifted from artisan shop to factory production. At the same time United States experienced a "transportation revolution", a key component of which was the building of extensive railroad network. Using a newly created data set of manufacturing establishments linked to county level data on rail access from 1850-70, we ask whether the coming of the railroad increased establishment size in manufacturing. Difference-in-difference and instrument variable estimates suggest that the railroad had a positive effect on factory status. In other words, Adam Smith was right -- the division of labor in nineteenth century American manufacturing was limited by the extent of the market.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14410.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14410.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Publication status: published as “Railroads and the Rise of the Factory: Evidence for the United States, 1850 - 1870,” (with Haines and Margo ) in P a ul Rhode, J oshua Rosenbloom, and D avid Weiman, ( eds. ) Economic Evolution and Revolutions in Historical Time . Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, (2011): 162 - 179 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14410
Note: DAE
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  1. Rousseau, Peter L. & Sylla, Richard, 2005. "Emerging financial markets and early US growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, January.
  2. Hilt, Eric, 2008. "When did Ownership Separate from Control? Corporate Governance in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 645-685, September.
  3. Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1981. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," UCLA Economics Working Papers 220, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2008. "Steam power, establishment size, and labor productivity growth in nineteenth century American manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 185-198, April.
  5. Craig, Lee A & Palmquist, Raymond B & Weiss, Thomas, 1998. "Transportation Improvements and Land Values in the Antebellum United States: A Hedonic Approach," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 173-89, March.
  6. Broadberry, Stephen N. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2006. "Labor productivity in the United States and the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 257-279, April.
  7. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  8. Michael R. Haines & Robert A. Margo, 2006. "Railroads and Local Economic Development: The United States in the 1850s," NBER Working Papers 12381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  1. Historical Economic Geography

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