Economic and Geographic Mobility on the Farming Frontier: Evidence from Appanoose County, Iowa 1850-1870
NBER Historical Working Paper No. 4
This paper investigates the characteristics of the early settlers on the midwestern farming frontier, the correlates of their geographic mobility, and the determinants of their wealth. Using evidence drawn from the manuscripts of the federal censuses of 1850-1870, we find average rates of growth of wealth over time that were considerably above the national average, a steeper cross-sectional relationship between wealth and age than those found for populations drawn more broadly from throughout the United States at the same time, and a substantial positive effect of early arrival on the frontier on wealth levels. These results suggest that very high levels of economic opportunity may have been a characteristic of the nineteenth-century farming frontier.
Published: Journal of Economic History, vol. XLIX, no. 3, pp. 635-655, Sept. 1989.