IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

U.S. Foreign Trade and the Balance of Payments, 1800-1913


  • Robert E. Lipsey


This paper reviews the main developments in U.S. trade and the balance of payments from the first years of the 19th century to the first decade of the 20th. American export trade was dominated by agricultural and other resource products long after the majority of the labor force had shifted out of agriculture. The shift out of agriculture was more rapid among the major trading partners of the United States because the American land area increased in the first half of the nineteenth century and agricultural land increased throughout the century. The rise in agricultural land area and a rapid decline in transport cost increased the supply of U.S. agricultural products to Europe and further displaced European agriculture and encouraged migration from Europe. The existence of the large world market, relatively open to the products of American comparative advantage and with a high price elasticity of demand for American exports, encouraged the expansion of U.S. land, agriculture, capital inflows, immigration, and the western migration of population.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Lipsey, 1994. "U.S. Foreign Trade and the Balance of Payments, 1800-1913," NBER Working Papers 4710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4710
    Note: DAE ITI

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David, Paul A., 1967. "The Growth of Real Product in the United States Before 1840: New Evidence, Controlled Conjectures," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(02), pages 151-197, June.
    2. Bjork, Gordon C., 1964. "The Weaning of the American Economy: Independence, Market Changes, and Economic Development," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 541-560, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Vesselin Hadjiev, 2001. "Econometric Evaluation of the Elasticity of the Foreign Trade through Bi-Spectral Analysis," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 2, pages 150-167.
    2. Jaime R. Marquez, 1995. "A century of trade elasticities for Canada, Japan, and the United States," International Finance Discussion Papers 531, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Huw McKay, 2008. "Metal Intensity in Comparative Historical Perspective: China, North Asia, the United States & the Kuznets Curve," GDSC Working Papers 006, Institute of Global Dynamic Systems.
    4. Kanning, A.J., 2004. "Codification of the common law in the United States : An economic perspective," Discussion Paper 2004-009, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    5. Jaime R. Marquez, 1994. "The constancy of illusions or the illusion of constancies: income and price elasticities for U.S. imports, 1890-1992," International Finance Discussion Papers 475, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Roger W. Ferguson & William L. Wascher, 2004. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Lessons from Past Productivity Booms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 3-28, Spring.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4710. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.