Department of Economics

Capital Intensity and U.S. County Population Growth during the Late Nineteenth Century

Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Working Paper #2012-02

Capital Intensity and U.S. County Population Growth during the Late Nineteenth Century

Burton A. Abrams, Jing Li and James G. Mulligan


The United States witnessed substantial growth in manufacturing and urban populations during the last half of the nineteenth century.  To date, no convincing evidence has been presented to explain the shift in population to urban areas.  We find evidence that capital intensity, particularly new capital in the form of steam horsepower, played a significant role in drawing labor into counties and by inference into urban areas.  This provides support for the hypothesis that the locational decisions of manufacturers and their placement of capital in urban areas fueled urban growth in the nineteenth century. 

JEL Codes: J61, N11, O33

Keywords: urbanization, capital intensity, regional population growth, technological change

The Lerner College is home to a state-of-the-art financial trading facility, the $1.4 million student-led Blue Hen Investment Fund, a student-managed restaurant and hotel, a high-technology development center of a global bank and a start-up experience for students with new business ideas.

Lerner College faculty - like Anu Sivaraman, who is among Social Media Marketing Magazine’s “Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter” and’s “Top 50 Marketing Professors on Twitter” - are thought leaders who command attention from influential business audiences, economists and policy makers.

All Lerner College departments offer experience-driven learning and emphasize evidence-based analytics methods to enrich the student experience. Here, finance students visit New York City’s financial districts for a first-hand look at markets trading and to meet with UD alumni.

Charles W. Horn, AS75, and wife Patricia, recently made a $3 million commitment to enhance and expand entrepreneurial studies.

  • Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics
    303 Alfred Lerner Hall  •  Newark, DE 19716  •  USA  •  ©