Sectoral Shift in Antebellum Massachusetts: A Reconsideration

26 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008

See all articles by Alexander J. Field

Alexander J. Field

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department


The key to the development of manufacturing in antebellum Massachusetts is to be found not in newly available technological or organizational blueprints in the manufacturing sector, not in changes in tariff policies, and not in demand shifts (although all of these many have contributed to some extent to the growth of manufacturing), but rather in the history of New England agriculture, a history which led to drastic changes in the nature of supply schedules for manufacturing labor in the region. Technological change in the transport sector depressed relative earnings in New England agriculture. Although some were able to move west in response to the more favorable agricultural opportunities available, not all were able to do so, for a number of reasons. It was this less than perfect factor mobility that permitted the growth of a sizable manufacturing sector in antebellum Massachusetts and New England.

Keywords: Manufacturng, Agriculture, Industrialization, Transportation

JEL Classification: J21, N31, N51, N61, O14

Suggested Citation

Field, Alexander J., Sectoral Shift in Antebellum Massachusetts: A Reconsideration. Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1978, Available at SSRN:

Alexander J. Field (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

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