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Financial Development and City Growth: Evidence from Northeastern American Cities, 1790-1870

  • Howard Bodenhorn
  • David Cuberes

In this paper we argue that in 19th century U.S, households and firms that were located in cities with banks enjoyed a higher level of both consumption and production amenities than those who were located in cities without banks. We use data on banks location and city population growth in the Northeastern United States in 1830-1870 and document a positive and strong correlation between financial development and subsequent population growth. The correlation is robust to controls for geographical characteristics of the city, the percentage of population working in different sectors, and its initial population. Propensity score matching estimators that compare similar cities in terms of observables also yield a positive association between finance and urban growth. Our estimates suggest that the presence of a bank at a given location in the late 1830s is associated with increases its population growth in the 1840s by one to one and a half percentage points per year. Because urban growth was correlated with economic development in the nineteenth-century U.S, we believe our results provide further support for the finance-growth nexus.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15997.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15997
Note: DAE
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  1. Scott Fulford, 2010. "If financial development matters, then how? National banks in the United States 1870-1900," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 753, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 May 2012.
  2. Cuberes David, 2009. "A Model of Sequential City Growth," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-41, May.
  3. Crowther, Simeon J., 1976. "Urban Growth in the Mid-Atlantic States, 1785–1850," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 624-644, September.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & William R. Kerr, 2009. "Local Industrial Conditions and Entrepreneurship: How Much of the Spatial Distribution Can We Explain?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 623-663, 09.
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  7. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-experimental Causal Studies," NBER Working Papers 6829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Taylor, George Rogers, 1967. "American Urban Growth Preceding the Railway Age," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(03), pages 309-339, September.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Stuart S. Rosenthal & William C, Strange, 2010. "Urban Economics and Entrepreneurship," NBER Chapters, in: Cities and Entrepreneurship National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Benfratello, Luigi & Schiantarelli, Fabio & Sembenelli, Alessandro, 2008. "Banks and innovation: Microeconometric evidence on Italian firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 197-217, November.
  11. Carlino, Gerald A. & Saiz, Albert, 2008. "City Beautiful," IZA Discussion Papers 3778, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  13. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2008. "Free banking and bank entry in nineteenth-century New York," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(02), pages 175-201, October.
  14. Michael R. Haines, 2001. "The Urban Mortality Transition in the United States, 1800-1940," NBER Historical Working Papers 0134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Roux, Sébastien, 2008. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology, and Worker Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 6728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Ross Levine, 1997. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Views and Agenda," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 688-726, June.
  17. Sukkoo Kim, 2000. "Urban Development in the United States, 1690–1990," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 855-880, April.
  18. Weiman, David F., 1988. "Urban Growth on the Periphery of the Antebellum Cotton Belt: Atlanta, 1847–1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(02), pages 259-272, June.
  19. Edward L. Glaeser & Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2012. "Entrepreneurship and Urban Growth: An Empirical Assessment with Historical Mines," Harvard Business School Working Papers 13-015, Harvard Business School.
  20. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Beeson, Patricia E. & DeJong, David N. & Troesken, Werner, 2001. "Population growth in U.S. counties, 1840-1990," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 669-699, November.
  22. Weber, Warren E., 2006. "Early State Banks in the United States: How Many Were There and When Did They Exist?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 433-455, June.
  23. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Monitoring and Reputation: The Choice between Bank Loans and Directly Placed Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 689-721, August.
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