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[1] Portions of the work underlying this paper were supported by the Alfred P. Sloan and the National Science Foundations. Portions were carried out while I was working for the U.S Treasury, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy. A related paper is forthcoming in a Brookings Institution book: Susan Collins, ed., Trade and America's Standard of Living. I would like to thank Bill Bareeda, Susan Collins, Barry Eichengreen, Louis Johnston, Marty Olney, Christina Romer, David Romer, Paul Romer, Sherman Robinson, Andrei Shleifer, Peter Temin, Robert Waldmann, and David Walters for helpful comments and discussions.

The views set forward here are the opinions of the author alone, and not of any institution or government.

[2] The pre-Civil War tariff, however, appears to raise more complex and subtle questions. See, among many others, John James, "The Optimal Tariff in the Ante-Bellum United States," American Economic Review 71, 4 (September 1981): pp. 726-34; C. Knick Harley, "The Antebellum American Tariff: Food Exports and Manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History 29, 4 (October 1992): pp. 375-400; Clayne Pope, "The Impact of the Ante-Bellum Tariff on Income Distribution," Explorations in Economic History 9 (July 1972), pp. 375-421.

[3] Louis Johnston, Endogenous Growth and the American Economy, 1840-1900 (Berkeley, CA: U. Cal. Berkeley Ph.D. Diss., 1990). Johnston's dissertation is one item in a broader current of thought. See, for example, Sukkoo Kim, "Regions, Resources, and Economic Geography: The Evolution of the U.S. Regional Economies, 1860-1987" (St Louis, MO: Washington University working paper, 1995).

[4] The classic references are Moses Abramovitz, "Resource and Output Trends in the United States since 1870," American Economic Review 46:2 (May 1956), pp. 5-23; and Robert Solow, "Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function," Review of Economics and Statistics 39:4 (August 1957), pp. 312-20.

[5] For some perceptive comments on this line of work--that he himself played a major role in starting--see Moses Abramovitz, "The Search for the Sources of Growth: Areas of Ignorance, Old and New," Journal of Economic History 53, 2 (June 1993): pp. 217-43.

[6] One of the most powerful uses of this framework to argue that many historians had been chasing false scents is Donald McCloskey, "Did Victorian Britain Fail?" Economic History Review 23 (1970), reprinted as pp. 94-110 of Donald McCloskey, Enterprise and Trade in Victorian Britain (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1981).

[7] See Paul Romer, "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Political Economy 94:5 (October 1996), pp. 1002-37; Paul Romer, "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review 77:2 (May 1987), pp. 56-62. I have some somewhat sardonic remarks on economic theorists' granting us license to make arguments that sound a lot like Gerschenkron-Rostow-Diaz-Alejandro in J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers, "Equipment Investment and Economic Growth," Quarterly Journal of Economics 106: 2 (May 1991), pp. 445-502.

[8] See Jeffrey Williamson, "Watersheds and Turning Points: Conjectures on the Long-Term Impact of Civil War Financing," Journal of Economic History 34:3 (September 1974), pp. 636-61; Jeffrey Williamson, Late Nineteenth-Century American Development: A General Equilibrium History (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1974).

9 James Fallows, Looking at the Sun: The Rise of the New East Asian Economic and Political System (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994), pp. 193-4. But see also Alice Amsden, Asia's Next Giant (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), William Lazonick, Business Organization and the Myth of the Market Economy (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991), and Thomas McCraw, "Mercantilism and the Market: Antecedents of American Industrial Policy," in C.E. Barfield and W.A. Schambra, eds., The Politics of Industrial Policy (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1986), pp. 33-62, among others.

[10] Jeremy Atack and Peter Passell, A New Economic View of American History from Colonial Times to 1940 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1994), may well be the single best summary treatment of the nineteenth century American economy.

[11] The classic reference is still Frank W. Taussig, The Tariff History of the United States (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1931). Also useful is Clayne Pope, "The Impact of the Ante-Bellum Tariff on Income Distribution," Explorations in Economic History 9 (July 1972), pp. 375-421. A very insightful discussion of the politics of pre-Civil War tariff reduction is William Freehling, Secessionists at Bay: 1776-1854 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

[12] See, again, Frank W. Taussig, The Tariff History of the United States (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1931). See also Bennett D. Baack and Edward John Ray, "The Political Economy of Tariff Policy: A Case Study of the United States," Explorations in Economic History 20:1 (January 1983), pp. 73-93; Bennett D. Baack and Edward John Ray, "Tariff Policy and Comparative Advantage in the Iron and Steel Industry: 1870-1929," Explorations in Economic History 11:1 (January 1974), pp. 33-51.

[13] Also useful as studies of the political economy of the tariff are John Hansen, "Taxation and the Political Economy of the Tariff," International Organization 44, 4 (Fall 1990): pp. 527-51; Edward Kaplan and Thomas Ryley, Prelude to Trade Wars: American Tariff Policy, 1890-1922 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994); Richard Edwards, "Economic Sophistication in Nineteenth Century Congressional Tariff Debates," Journal of Economic History 30, 4 (December 1970): pp. 802-838; and Judith Goldstein, Ideas, Interests, and American Trade Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Presss, 1993).

[14] Robert L. Lipsey, "U.S. Foreign Trade and the Balance of Payments, 1800-1913," Working Paper 4710 (Cambridge, MA: NBER, 1994).

[15] See Jeffrey Williamson, Inequality, Povety, and History (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1991).

[16] For some evidence that this was not the case, see John James and Jonathan Skinner, "Sources of Savings in the Nineteenth Century United States," in Peter Kilby, ed., Quantity and Quiddity: Essays in U.S. Economic History (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1977), and Susan B. Carter and Richard Sutch, "The Myth of the Industrial Scrap Heap: A Revisionist View of Turn-of-the-Century American Retirement," Journal of Economic History 56, 1 (forthcoming March 1996).

[17] In addition to Louis Johnston, Endogenous Growth and the American Economy (Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Ph.D. Diss., 1990), see also John James, "Public Debt Management Policy and Nineteenth Century Economic Growth," Explorations in Economic History 21(2) (April 1984): pp. 192-217.

[18] See Alfred D. Chandler, TheVisible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977).


Econ Articles

Created 2/21/1996
This is
Brad De Long's Home Page


Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans
University of California at Berkeley
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