Tariffs and Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America

30 Pages Posted: 18 May 2000 Last revised: 10 Apr 2001

See all articles by Douglas A. Irwin

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2000

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

Irwin, Douglas A., Tariffs and Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America (April 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7639. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=228114

Douglas A. Irwin (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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