Department of Economics
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: Boston University
Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2017||Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States|
with Samuel Bazzi, Mesay Gebresilasse: w23997
The presence of a westward-moving frontier of settlement shaped early U.S. history. In 1893, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner famously argued that the American frontier fostered individualism. We investigate the Frontier Thesis and identify its long-run implications for culture and politics. We track the frontier throughout the 1790–1890 period and construct a novel, county-level measure of total frontier experience (TFE). Historically, frontier locations had distinctive demographics and greater individualism. Long after the closing of the frontier, counties with greater TFE exhibit more pervasive individualism and opposition to redistribution. This pattern cuts across known divides in the U.S., including urban–rural and north–south. We provide suggestive evidence on the roots of fro...
|February 2017||Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S.|
This paper examines the role of agricultural diversity in the process of development. Using data from U.S. counties and exploiting climate-induced variation in agricultural production patterns, I show that mid-19th century agricultural diversity had positive long-run effects on population density and income per capita. Examining the effects on development outcomes over time, I find that early agricultural diversity fostered structural change during the Second Industrial Revolution. Besides stimulating industrialization, agricultural diversity boosted manufacturing diversification, patent activity, and new labor skills, as well as knowledge- and skill-intensive industries. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that diversity spurs the acquisition of new ideas and new skills becau...