Little Divergence in America — Market Access and Demographic Transition in the United States

38 Pages Posted: 19 May 2022

See all articles by Melanie Guldi

Melanie Guldi

Mount Holyoke College - Department of Economics; University of Central Florida - College of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Ahmed Rahman

Lehigh University - Department of Economics

Abstract

This paper assesses the causal impact of greater market access on demographic transition during the latter half of the 19th century in the United States. We construct new measures of fertility changes and measures of railroad access at the county level from 1850 – 1890. We are able to document market-access-induced changes in fertility due to both extensive margins (shifts in occupations with different average fertility rates) and intensive margins (changes in fertility within each occupation class). Both our theoretical model and empirical results suggest that declining fertility in counties mainly occurred through extensive margins. We further discover that fertility changes occurred mainly through strengthening patterns of specialization, rather than through greater industrialization or urbanization, suggesting that demographics diverged within the United States during this period.

Keywords: demographic transition, market access, railroads, fertility, agricultural production, manufacturing production

JEL Classification: J11, J13, N11, N31

Suggested Citation

Guldi, Melanie and Guldi, Melanie and Rahman, Ahmed, Little Divergence in America — Market Access and Demographic Transition in the United States. IZA Discussion Paper No. 15215, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4114790 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4114790

Melanie Guldi (Contact Author)

Mount Holyoke College - Department of Economics ( email )

South Hadley, MA 01075
United States

University of Central Florida - College of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States

Ahmed Rahman

Lehigh University - Department of Economics ( email )

620 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States

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