Department of Economics

The Steam Engine and U.S. Urban Growth During the Late Nineteenth Century

Department of Economics

University of Delaware

Working Paper #2009-06

The Steam Engine and U.S. Urban Growth During the Late Nineteenth Century

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

ABSTRACT

There is an on-going debate concerning the role that the steam engine played in fueling urban growth in the U.S. during the second half of the nineteenth century. While a consensus has been building that steam power played little or no role in affecting urban growth, we find evidence to the contrary by using previously untapped county-level data on steam power in manufacturing.

JEL Codes: N32, O14, O18

Keywords: Urbanization, Technology, Convergence

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