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Market Potential and the Rise of US Productivity Leadership

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  • Dan Liu
  • Christopher M. Meissner

Abstract

The US advantage in per capita output, apparent from the late 19th century, is frequently attributed to its relatively large domestic market. We construct market potential measures for the US and 26 other countries between 1880 and 1913 based on a general equilibrium model of production and trade. When compared to other leading economies in 1900, the year around which the US overtakes Britain in productivity leadership, the US does not have the overwhelming lead in market potential that it has in GDP per capita. Still, market potential is positively related to the cross-country distribution of income per capita, but the impact of market potential is likely to be very heterogeneous. We illustrate this in a quantitative calculation of the welfare gains from removing international borders in 1900 within a parsimonious general equilibrium trade model. While there are gains from trade for all nations, the largest European countries do not close their per capita income gaps with the US after this hypothetical rise in market potential. On the other hand, many small countries could have done so.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Liu & Christopher M. Meissner, 2013. "Market Potential and the Rise of US Productivity Leadership," NBER Working Papers 18819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18819
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    2. Jacks, David S. & Novy, Dennis, 2018. "Market Potential and Global Growth over the Long Twentieth Century," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 221-237.
    3. Antonin Bergeaud & Gilbert Cette & Rémy Lecat, 2016. "Productivity Trends in Advanced Countries between 1890 and 2012," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(3), pages 420-444, September.
    4. Huberman, Michael & Meissner, Christopher M. & Oosterlinck, Kim, 2017. "Technology and Geography in the Second Industrial Revolution: New Evidence from the Margins of Trade," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 39-89, March.
    5. Wei Tian & Miaojie Yu, 2017. "Firm R&D, Processing Trade and Input Trade Liberalisation: Evidence from Chinese Firms," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 297-313, February.
    6. Crafts, Nicholas & O’Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Twentieth Century Growth*This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 249546.," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 263-346, Elsevier.
    7. Christopher David Absell, 2020. "The rise of coffee in the Brazilian south‐east: tariffs and foreign market potential, 1827–40," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 73(4), pages 964-990, November.
    8. Zahra Dehghan Shabani & Ali Hussein Samadi & Amene Zare, 2017. "Does Market Potential Matter? Evidence on the Impact of Market Potential on Economic Growth in Iranian Provinces," Iranian Economic Review (IER), Faculty of Economics,University of Tehran.Tehran,Iran, vol. 21(4), pages 847-863, Autumn.
    9. Pinar, Mehmet & Volkan, Engin, 2018. "Institutions and information flows, and their effect on capital flows," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 34-47.
    10. Bergeaud, A. & Cette, G. & Lecat, R., 2015. "Productivity trends from 1890 to 2012 in advanced countries," Rue de la Banque, Banque de France, issue 07, June..
    11. Cristián Ducoing & José Peres-Cajías & Marc Badia-Miró & Ann-Kristin Bergquist & Carlos Contreras & Kristin Ranestad & Sara Torregrosa, 2018. "Natural Resources Curse in the Long Run? Bolivia, Chile and Peru in the Nordic Countries’ Mirror," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(4), pages 1-25, March.
    12. Jacopo Timini, 2021. "Revisiting the 'Cobden-Chevalier network' trade and welfare effects," Working Papers 2122, Banco de España.
    13. Adam, Marc Christopher, 2019. "Return of the tariffs: The interwar trade collapse revisited," Discussion Papers 2019/8, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N21 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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