Productivity Growth and the Regional Dynamics of Antebellum Southern Development

46 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2010

See all articles by Alan L. Olmstead

Alan L. Olmstead

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Paul W. Rhode

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2010

Abstract

Between 1800 and 1860, the United States became the preeminent world supplier of cotton as output increased sixty-fold. Technological changes, including the introduction of improved cotton varieties, contributed significantly to this growth. Measured output per worker in the cotton sector rose four-fold and large regional differences emerged. By 1840, output per worker in the New South was twice that in the Old South. The economy-wide increase is explained, in equal measure, by growth in output per worker at fixed locations and by the reallocation of labor across regions. These results offer a new view on the dynamics of economic development in antebellum America.

Suggested Citation

Olmstead, Alan L. and Rhode, Paul W., Productivity Growth and the Regional Dynamics of Antebellum Southern Development (October 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16494. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1699571

Alan L. Olmstead (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

Paul W. Rhode

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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