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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 Note: DAE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bergeaud, A. & Cette, G. & Lecat, R., 2015. "Productivity trends from 1890 to 2012 in advanced countries," Rue de la Banque, Banque de France.
    2. 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(01), pages 39-89, March.
    3. Bergeaud, A. & Cette, G. & Lecat, R., 2015. "Productivity trends from 1890 to 2012 in advanced countries," Rue de la Banque, Banque de France.
    4. 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: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 263-346 Elsevier.

    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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