Department of Economics
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
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
In a classic 1893 essay, Frederick Jackson Turner argued that the American frontier promoted individualism. We revisit the Frontier Thesis and examine its relevance at the subnational level. Using Census data and GIS techniques, we track the frontier throughout the 1790-1890 period and construct a novel, county-level measure of historical frontier experience. We document skewed sex ratios and other distinctive demographics of frontier locations, as well as their greater individualism (proxied by infrequent children names). Many decades after the closing of the frontier, counties with longer historical frontier experience exhibit more prevalent individualism and opposition to redistribution and regulation. We take several steps towards a causal interpretation, including an instrumental vari...
|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...