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Explaining United States International Trade, 1870-1910


  • William K. Hutchinson

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)


Wright (1990) presents evidence on the factor content of trade that indicates the United States tended to export goods that were raw materials intensive. Using factor per unit of output ratios derived from the United States Census of Manu-factures, we are able to supplement Wright's findings for the period 1870 to 1910, a period in which his results were not as conclusive as were his results for later periods. In addition to the female and child labor content of trade during this pe-riod, the Census data also allow us to examine a measure of the human capital con-tent of trade during the period 1870 to 1910. Net exports tended to be capital in-tensive relative to labor and materials. However, a complementary relationship existed between capital and materials relative to labor which resulted in a positive relationship between labor value per unit of output and net exports.

Suggested Citation

  • William K. Hutchinson, 2002. "Explaining United States International Trade, 1870-1910," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0205, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0205

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markusen, James R. & Melvin, James R. & Maskus, Keith E. & Kaempfer, William, 1995. "International trade: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 21989, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 1995. "Trade blocs, currency blocs and the reorientation of world trade in the 1930s," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 1-24, February.
    3. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg00-1, January.
    4. Leamer, Edward E, 1980. "The Leontief Paradox, Reconsidered," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 495-503, June.
    5. Harry P. Bowen & Leo Sveikauskas, 1992. "Judging Factor Abundance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 599-620.
    6. Robert E. Lipsey, 1963. "Introduction to "Price and Quantity Trends in the Foreign Trade of the United States"," NBER Chapters,in: Price and Quantity Trends in the Foreign Trade of the United States, pages 3-7 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-1046, December.
    8. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Introduction to "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860"," NBER Chapters,in: Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Leamer, Edward E & Bowen, Harry P, 1981. "Cross-Section Tests of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem: Comment [Factor Abundance and Comparative Advantage]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 1040-1043, December.
    10. Goldin, Claudia, 2001. "The Human-Capital Century And American Leadership: Virtues Of The Past," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 263-292, June.
    11. Wright, Gavin, 1990. "The Origins of American Industrial Success, 1879-1940," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 651-668, September.
    12. Robert E. Lipsey, 1963. "Price and Quantity Trends in the Foreign Trade of the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips63-1, January.
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    More about this item


    International trade; factor content; factor intensity;

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913


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