Portage: Path Dependence and Increasing Returns in U.S. History
C. Hoyt Bleakley
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; University of Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
August 20, 2010
FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 10-27
The authors examine portage sites in the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including those on the fall line, a geomorphologic feature in the southeastern U.S. marking the final rapids on rivers before the ocean. Historically, waterborne transport of goods required portage around the falls at these points, while some falls provided water power during early industrialization. These factors attracted commerce and manufacturing. Although these original advantages have long since been made obsolete, the authors document the continuing-and even increasing-importance of these portage sites over time. They interpret this finding in a model with path dependence arising from local increasing returns to scale.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: Economic Geography, History Dependence, Initial Conditions, Fall Line, Coordination Problemworking papers series
Date posted: September 22, 2010
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