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American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War

This benchmark volume addresses the debate over the effects of early industrialization on standards of living during the decades before the Civil War. Its contributors demonstrate that the aggregate antebellum economy was growing faster than any other large economy had grown before.

Despite the dramatic economic growth and rise in income levels, questions remain as to the general quality of life during this era. Was the improvement in income widely shared? How did economic growth affect the nature of work? Did higher levels of income lead to improved health and longevity? The authors address these questions by analyzing new estimates of labor force participation, real wages, and productivity, as well as of the distribution of income, height, and nutrition.

406 pages | 80 tables, 15 figures | 6 x 9 | © 1992

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--History

History: American History

Table of Contents

Introduction, Robert E. Gallman and John Joseph Wallis
1 U. S. Labor Force Estimates and Economic Growth, 1800-1860 Thomas Weiss
Comment: Claudia Goldin
2 American Economic Growth before the Civil War: The Testimony of the Capital Stock Estimates, Robert E. Gallman
Comment: Stanley L. Engerman
3 Inequalities in the Standard of Living in the United States, 1798-1875, Lee Soltow
Comment: Clayne L. Pope
4 Wages and Prices during the Antebellum Period: A Survey and New Evidence, Robert A. Margo
Comment: Jeffrey G. Williamson
5 Consumer Behavior, Diet, and the Standard of Living in late Colonial and Early Antebellum America, 1770-1840, Lorena S. Walsh
Comment: Gloria L. Main
6 Stature and Living Standards in the United States Richard H. Steckel
Comment: Carole Shammas
7 The Productivity Consequences of Market Integration: Agriculture in Massachusetts, 1771-1801, Winifred B. Rothenberg
Comment: Jeremy Atack
8 Invention, Innovation, and Manufacturing Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Northeast, Kenneth L. Sokoloff
Comment: Jeremy Atack

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