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Tariffs and Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America

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  • Douglas A. Irwin

Abstract

Were high import tariffs somehow related to the strong U.S. economic growth during the late nineteenth century? This paper examines this frequently mentioned but controversial question and investigates the channels by which tariffs could have promoted growth during this period. The paper shows that: (i) late nineteenth century growth hinged more on population expansion and capital accumulation than on productivity growth; (ii) tariffs may have discouraged capital accumulation by raising the price of imported capital goods; (iii) productivity growth was most rapid in non-traded sectors (such as utilities and services) whose performance was not directly related to the tariff.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas A. Irwin, 2000. "Tariffs and Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America," NBER Working Papers 7639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7639
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7639.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
    2. Irwin, Douglas A., 1998. "Higher Tariffs, Lower Revenues? Analyzing the Fiscal Aspects of “The Great Tariff Debate of 1888”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 59-72, March.
    3. Irwin, Douglas A. & Tervio, Marko, 2002. "Does trade raise income?: Evidence from the twentieth century," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 1-18, October.
    4. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 2001. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 261-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 1700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Est-ce qu’un pays doit protéger ses industries naissantes pour se développer?
      by minarchiste in Le Minarchiste on 2013-03-01 18:12:25
    2. Le culte des exportations…
      by Minarchiste in Le Minarchiste on 2013-07-26 16:41:50
    3. Redux: Est-ce qu’un pays doit protéger ses industries naissantes pour se développer?
      by Minarchiste in Le Minarchiste on 2018-04-19 23:51:37

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carlo Pietrobelli & Silvia Nenci, 2007. "Does tariff liberalization promote trade? Latin America in the long run (1900-2000)," Working Papers 0704, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2007.
    2. Yilmaz Akyüz, 2005. "The WTO Negotiations on Industrial Tariffs : What is at Stake for Developing Countries?," Trade Working Papers 22080, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    3. Yilmaz Akyuz, 2005. "The WTO Negotiations on Industrial Tariffs: What is at Stake for Developing Countries?," Working Papers 2005/8, Turkish Economic Association.
    4. Nicholas Crafts & Anthony Venables, 2003. "Globalization in History.A Geographical Perspective," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 323-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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