Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?

21 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2005 Last revised: 16 Aug 2010

See all articles by Sukkoo Kim

Sukkoo Kim

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 2005

Abstract

Industrialization and urbanization are seen as interdependent processes of modern economic development. However, the exact nature of their causal relationship is still open to considerable debate. This paper uses firm-level data from the manuscripts of the decennial censuses between 1850 and 1880 to examine whether the adoption of the steam engine as the primary power source by manufacturers during industrialization contributed to urbanization. While the data indicate that steam-powered firms were more likely to locate in urban areas than water-powered firms, the adoption of the steam engine did not contribute substantially to urbanization.

Suggested Citation

Kim, Sukkoo, Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States? (March 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11206. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=689387

Sukkoo Kim (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Economics ( email )

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