The Sources of Regional Variation in the Severity of the Great Depression: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing, 1919-1937

Joshua L. Rosenbloom, William A. Sundstrom

NBER Working Paper No. 6288
Issued in November 1997
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Development of the American Economy

The severity of the Great Depression in the United States varied by region. Most notably compared with the rest of the country, the South Atlantic states experienced a milder contraction while the Mountain states suffered more severely. The impact of the contraction was more" uniform across other regions of the country--surprisingly so, considering the large regional" differences in industrial structure. We employ data from the biennial Census of Manufactures on" 20 individual manufacturing industries disaggregated by state to analyze the relative" contributions of industry mix and location to regional variations in economic performance during" the period 1919-1937. Industrial composition had a significant impact on regional employment" growth, with regions that concentrated on the production of durable goods or inputs to the" construction sector tending to fare worse than others. Long-run regional trends also played an" important role in regional variation, and explain much of the South Atlantic region's more" favorable performance over the cycle.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6288

Published: Rosenbloom, Joshua L. and William A. Sundstrom. "The Sources Of Regional Variation In The Severity Of The Great Depression: Evidence From U.S. Manufacturing, 1919-1937," Journal of Economic History, 1999, v59(3,Sep), 714-747. citation courtesy of

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