History of the American Economy: Eleventh Edition. Gary M. Walton and Hugh Rockoff. Vice President of Editorial, Business: Jack W. Calhoun. Acquisitions. American Economic History. Spring Class Hours: and Gary Walton, History of the American Economy. This book will provide you with a. PDF | The American economy has provided a level of well-being that has consistently ranked at or near the top of the international ladder. A key.
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History of the American Economy This page intentionally left blank History of the American Economy ELEVENTH EDITION GARY M. WALTON University of. Written in celebration of the upcoming th anniversary of the American Economic Review (February. ), this paper recounts the history of the journal. This paper examines the evolving structure of the American economy, specifically , the Employing historical time series data from the Bureau of Labor Sta-.
Engerman , codified in a constitution influenced by the commercial interests of its framers Robert A. McGuire , and grafted to a strong financial system Richard Sylla —explain much of the young nation's rapid convergence to British standards of living, as well as the economic successes and failures of federal land policies Gary D. Libecap , and the roles of national, state, and municipal governments in the antebellum economy John Joseph Wallis.
Some of the volume's most stimulating contributions trace the origins of the modern mixed economy back to the Civil War, a crisis that derived, in essence, from a morally reprehensible property right. The War ushered in the first centrally administered conscription policy, as well as a national income tax, a national banking system, a national [End Page ] currency, Departments of Agriculture and Education, land-grant universities, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Secret Service Jeffrey Rogers Hummel.
Moreover, whereas government sanctioned slavery prior to the Civil War, it likely accelerated the pace of racial convergence on the basis of income, education, and wealth afterwards Robert A.
In turn, emancipation motivated paternalism, which served Southern plantation owners as an enforcement mechanism that minimized the cost of monitoring free labor.
Paternalism effectively shaped the growth of the welfare state, which the South resisted to the extent that it interfered with how the region managed—and, hence, controlled—its labor force Lee J. Alston and Joseph P. The volume is dedicated to Robert Higgs, whose seminal thesis on the growth of government—that it is a crisis-induced and persistent process—is one of the volume's underlying themes and the subject of Higgs' chapter titled, "The World Wars".
The other is that government advances economic development and growth when it observes well-defined private-property rights, enforces contracts, administers justice, and defends the nation from external aggressors.
Many of the volume's sixteen contributors, whose names most readers will recognize, weave both themes into their essays. Others discuss the public sector's tendency to accrete—and, hence, shape the U. In any case, most essays offer a balanced assessment of government. And, each couches clear and concise economic analysis within an instructive historical narrative, complete with notes and bibliographies; hence, this work will appeal to a wide audience of experts and nonexperts alike. The volume opens with several essays that together discuss, in the context of the founding of the United States, how initial property endowments shape property-rights institutions, which in turn shape the development and growth of both the economy and the government.
They demonstrate convincingly that early American property rights institutions—born of British precedents Stanley L. Engerman , codified in a constitution influenced by the commercial interests of its framers Robert A.
Thereby the nation monetized the potential wealth represented by farms, urban buildings, factories, and businesses, and immediately turned that money over to the Treasury for war needs.
British Parliamentary Committee members Joseph Whitworth and George Wallis were very impressed at the educational level of workers in the U. The Union grew rich fighting the war, as the Confederate economy was destroyed. The South had resisted policies such as tariffs to promote industry and homestead laws to promote farming because slavery would not benefit; with the South gone, and Northern Democrats very weak in Congress, the Republicans enacted their legislation.
At the same time they passed new taxes to pay for part of the war, and issued large amounts of bonds to pay for the most of the rest. The remainder can be charged to inflation. They wrote an elaborate program of economic modernization that had the dual purpose of winning the war and permanently transforming the economy.
He took charge of major legislation that funded the war effort and revolutionized the nation's economic policies regarding tariffs, bonds, income and excise taxes, national banks, suppression of money issued by state banks, greenback currency, and western railroad land grants. Historians have debated whether or not the Civil War sped up the rate of economic growth in the face of destruction throughout the South and the diversion of resources to military supplies and away from civilian goods.
In any case the war taught new organizational methods, prioritized engineering skills, and shifted the national attention from politics to business. In the last third of the 19th century the United States entered a phase of rapid economic growth which doubled per capita income over the period.
By , the United States leaped ahead of Britain for first place in manufacturing output. For example, Standard Oil led the way in exporting kerosene; Russia was its main rival in international trade. The greatly expanded railroad network, using inexpensive steel rails produced by new steel making processes, dramatically lowered transportation cost to areas without access to navigable waterways.
Low freight rates allowed large manufacturing facilities with great economies of scale. Machinery became a large industry and many types of machines were developed.
Businesses were able to operate over wide areas and chain stores arose. Mail order companies started operating. Companies created a new management systems to carry out their operations on a large scale. Companies integrated processes to eliminate unnecessary steps and to eliminate middlemen. An explosion of new discoveries and inventions took place, a process called the Second Industrial Revolution.
The electric light, telephone, steam turbine , internal combustion engine, automobile, phonograph , typewriter and tabulating machine were some of the many inventions of the period. New processes for making steel and chemicals such as dyes and explosives were invented.
The pneumatic tire , improved ball bearings , machine tools and newly developed metal stamping techniques enabled the large scale production of bicycles in the s. Another significant development was the widespread introduction of electric street railways trams, trolleys or streetcars in the s.
Improvements in transportation and other technological progress caused prices to fall, especially during the so-called long depression , but the rising amount of gold and silver being mined eventually resulted in mild inflation during the s and beyond. Railroads saw their greatest growth in new track added in the last three decades of the 19th century.
See Table 2 Railroads also enjoyed high productivity growth during this time, mainly because of the introduction of new processes that made steel inexpensive. Steel rails lasted roughly ten times longer than iron rails. Steel rails, which became heavier as steel prices fell, enabled heavier, more powerful locomotives that could pull longer trains.
Rail cars made of steel on steel rails could be made longer cars and had a load carrying to car weight ratio of 2: In David Ames Wells estimated wagon transport at 16 cents per ton-mile compared to railroads at less than one cent per ton-mile.
Railroads competed fiercely for passengers and freight by expanding their routes, too often into increasingly marginal ones.
The high capital required for expansion plus the low rates, driven by competition and by what the market would bear, resulted in a large percentage of railroad track in bankruptcy. A practical refrigerated ice cooled railcar was introduced in Gustavus Franklin Swift developed an integrated network of cattle procurement, slaughtering, meat-packing and shipping meat to market. Up to that time cattle were driven great distances to railroad shipping points, causing the cattle to lose considerable weight.
Swift developed a large business, which grew in size with the entry of several competitors. In the last three decades of the 19th century iron and steel became a leading industry, in second place by value added, with machinery being in first place. The Bessemer process was the first large scale process for producing steel, which it was able to do at low cost.
The first U. Bessemer steel was used mostly for rails. Due to difficulty in controlling quality and embrittlement with aging, Bessemer steel was not suitable for structural purposes. The Siemens-Martin process, or open hearth process , produced a suitable grade structural steel. Open hearth steel displaced wrought iron as a structural material in the s. Open hearth steel began being used in a wide variety of applications including high rise buildings, ships, machinery, pipelines, rails and bridges.
Early electrification was too limited to have a big impact on the late 19th century economy. Electricity was also very expensive because of the low conversion efficiency of fuel to power, the small scale of power plants and the fact that most utilities offered only nighttime service. Daytime service became common during the early 20th century after the introduction of the AC motor , which tended to be used more during the day, balancing the load.
Until that time a large share of power was self-generated by the user, such as a factory, hotel or electric street railway tram or streetcar. Electric street railways were introduced in the U.
The early electric street railways typically generated their own power and also operated as electric utilities, which served to even out daily load because the main use of power for lighting was after the peak usage by railways. Until the early s electricity had been used mainly in telegraphy and electroplating.
Efficient dynamo 's were introduced in the s and began being used to power electric carbon arc lamps after In Thomas Edison patented his invention of a long lasting incandescent light bulb and a system for distributing electrical power. In he opened the Pearl Street Station in Manhattan, which was the first central power station in the U.
Using DC placed severe restrictions on the distance power could be transmitted due to power losses. With DC there was no way to transform power to high voltages, which would have reduced the current and lowered the transmission losses. Power can be safely generated to about volts, but this is a dangerous voltage for household use.
Table of contents
With alternating current voltage can be changed up or down using a transformer. AC power began being widely introduced in the s. Following the failure of the first short lived Transatlantic telegraph cable of , a second, more durable cable was completed in , connecting Nova Scotia to England. By there was an international telegraph network. After invention of the telephone in additional development work was required to make it commercially viable.
The first telephones were for local calls. Automatic telephone switching, which eliminated the need for telephone operators to manually connect local calls on a switchboard, was introduced in ; however it did not become widespread for several decades. Before railroads most businesses were run by a sole proprietor or were a partnership.
The owners typically ran the daily operations. The railroad industry was the first to adopt modern business management practices in response to the need to operate over vast areas, to maintain continuous long distance communications, to manage a complex network, to track trains and freight.
Railroads hired professional managers and divided work into various corporate departments, and developed the organization diagram. Another modern business innovation was vertical integration , by which companies expanded to encompass all stages of a business, from producing the raw materials, processing them into saleable products and selling the finished products.
Notable examples occurred in the steel and petroleum industries. A dramatic expansion in farming took place. The number of people living on farms grew from about 10 million in to 22 million in to 31 million in Even larger numbers of settlers downloadd lands at very low interest from the new railroads, which were trying to create markets.
The railroads advertised heavily in Europe and brought over, at low fares, hundreds of thousands of farmers from Germany, Scandinavia and Britain.
Despite their remarkable progress and general prosperity, 19th-century U. Along with the mechanical improvements which greatly increased yield per unit area, the amount of land under cultivation grew rapidly throughout the second half of the century, as the railroads opened up new areas of the West for settlement. The wheat farmers enjoyed abundant output and good years from to when bad European harvests kept the world price high.
They then suffered from a slump in the s when conditions in Europe improved. The farther west the settlers went, the more dependent they became on the monopolistic railroads to move their goods to market, and the more inclined they were to protest, as in the Populist movement of the s. Wheat farmers blamed local grain elevator owners who downloadd their crop , railroads and eastern bankers for the low prices.
To modernize traditional agriculture reformers founded the Grange movement , in The Granges focused initially on social activities to counter the isolation most farm families experienced. Women's participation was actively encouraged. Spurred by the Panic of , the Grange soon grew to 20, chapters and 1. The Granges set up their own marketing systems, stores, processing plants, factories and cooperatives. Most went bankrupt. The movement also enjoyed some political success during the s.
A few Midwestern states passed " Granger Laws ", limiting railroad and warehouse fees. Federal land grants helped each state create an agricultural college and a network of extension agents who demonstrated modern techniques to farmers. Wheat and cotton farmers in the s supported the Populist movement, but failed in their demands for free silver and inflation. Instead the election committed the nation to the gold standard and a program of sustained industrialization.
Farmers in the Midwest and East gave verbal support to the Populists. They focused on the nearby urban markets, rather than on highly fluctuating European markets for weaving cotton.
In the s an advance in lighting was the use of kerosene lamps with glass chimneys, which produced a good quality light at a relatively affordable price. Kerosene lighting effectively extended the day and made it easier to read at night. An industry developed to produce coal oil , as kerosene was then called. George Bissell paid a visit Dartmouth College , which he had attended, and saw a sample of "rock oil" from Pennsylvania. Suspecting that the oil may have potential as an illuminant and lubricant, he organized an investor group.
Silliman's report of April stated that "rock oil" could yield an excellent illuminating oil. However, there was no economical means for producing sufficient commercial quantities of oil.
Bissell had a chance insight when he saw a picture of oil derricks used to produce an oil based patent medicine obtained as a byproduct of a brine well.
Edwin Drake , a shareholder, was hired by the company to drill for oil. The site chosen to drill the well was on Oil Creek near Titusville, PA, where a water well was producing oil. Drake chose to use brine well drilling technology based on the technique used in China since ancient times that reached the West in the late s, except that Drake used iron cable, an iron well casing and a steam engine. The Drake Well hit oil at a depth of Among the numerous refineries that were started were several along a new rail link to Cleveland, Ohio, where John D.
Rockefeller and his partner Maurice Clark owned a grocery produce shipping business. Rockefeller and Clark also got in the refining business, and in the partners decided to hold a private auction between the two, with Rockefeller being the successful bidder. The refining industry was intensely competitive, and by there was three times the capacity needed, a situation which lasted many years, with the number of refineries reaching In John D. Harkness formed Standard Oil. John D. Rockefeller was the master planner and organizer of the systematic plan to form combinations with or acquire competitors and enter all phases of the oil industry from production to transportation, refining and distribution, a concept called vertical integration.
Standard Oil sought every possible advantage over its competitors. One method was using Standard's high shipping volume to secure discounts and drawbacks payments from railroads for transporting competitors products from railroads.
Producers in the Pennsylvania oil region tried to counter Standard Oil's transportation arrangements download building the first long distance pipeline, the mile long Tidewater Pipeline to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which was on the Reading Railroad. Standard Oil fought back by building four pipelines of its own. Standard continued to monopolize the oil industry in the U.
United States. Efficient gas mantles and electric lighting were eroding the illuminating oil market beginning in the s; however a previously low value byproduct of refining was gasoline, which more than offset the role of kerosene in the early 20th century. Coal was found in abundance in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky. Large iron ore mines opened in the Lake Superior region of the upper Midwest.
Steel mills thrived in places where these coal and iron ore could be brought together to produce steel. Large copper and silver mines opened, followed by lead mines and cement factories. During the period, a series of recessions happened. It was one of the shortest and mildest recessions in American economic history. Panic of created one of the worst and longest depressions in American history, seriously affecting every aspect of the economy and bringing the railroad expansion to a halt.
Politically, the Democrats took control of Congress in , the election of was deadlocked. The end of the Gilded Age coincided with the Panic of , a deep depression that lasted until Wheat and cotton farmers in the West and South were especially hard hit, and moved toward radicalism.
Agrarian spokesmen William Jennings Bryan called for an inflationary policy of using cheap silver to effectively replace expensive gold. Bryan lost in a major political realignment in favor of the conservative pro-gold Republicans in the election of Europe had a substantial amount of water supply and sewer infrastructure installed by the mid s.
In only 0. The American labor movement began with the first significant labor union, the Knights of Labor in The Knights collapsed in the s and were displaced by strong international unions that banded together as the American Federation of Labor under Samuel Gompers.
Rejecting socialism, the AFL unions negotiated with owners for higher wages and better working conditions. Union growth was slow until , then grew to a peak during World War I. Concern over railroads' unfair practices, such as freight rates favoring certain shippers, led to the Interstate Commerce Act of which created the nation's first regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission.
However, a sharp break in the growth rate to around 2. Economists are uncertain what combination of supply and demand factors caused the break, but productivity growth was strong, enabling the labor cost per unit of output to decline from to ! It is generally accepted that the new technologies and more efficient business methods permanently shifted the supply and demand relationship for labor, with labor being in surplus except during both world wars when the economy was engaged in war-time production and millions of men served in the armed forces.
The technologies that became widespread after , such as electrification, internal powered transportation and mass production, were capital saving. Total non-residential fixed business fell after due to the fall of investment in structures. Two of the most transformative technologies of the century were widely introduced during the early decades: Chain stores experienced rapid growth. Standardization was urged by Dept.
A simplified standardization program was issued during World War I. Electrification was one of the most important drivers of economic growth in the early 20th century.
The revolutionary design of electric powered factories caused the period of the highest productivity growth in manufacturing. There was large growth in the electric utility industry and the productivity growth of electric utilities was high as well. At the turn of the 20th century electricity was used primarily for lighting and most electric companies did not provide daytime service.
Electric motors that were used in daytime, such as the DC motors that powered street railways, helped balance the load, and many street railways generated their own electricity and also operated as electric utilities. The AC motor , developed in the s, was ideal for industrial and commercial power and greatly increased the demand for electricity, particular during daytime.
Electrification in the U. Electric utilities with central generating stations using steam turbines greatly lowered the cost of power, with businesses and houses in cities becoming electrified. By almost all urban households had electricity.
Electrical appliances such as irons, cooking appliances and washing machines were slowly adopted by households. The electrical power industry had high productivity growth. Many large central power stations, equipped with high pressure boilers and steam turbine generators began being built after These central stations were designed for efficient handling of coal from the layout of the rail yards to the conveyor systems. They were also much more fuel efficient, lowering the amount of fuel per kilowatt-hour of electricity to a small fraction of what it had been.
In it took 7 lbs coal to generate one kilowatt hour. In it took 0. Rapid economic growth in the early decades of the 20th century were largely due to productivity growth in manufacturing. Factory electrification revolutionized manufacturing. Unit drive, which means using a single electric motor for powering a single machine, eliminated line shafts previously used to transmit power from a small number of steam engines or hydraulic turbines.
Line shafts created constraints on building arrangement that impeded the efficient flow of materials because they presented traffic barriers and required multi-story buildings for economy. It was not uncommon for large manufacturing sites to have many miles of line shafts.
Electric motors were much more economical to operate than steam engines in terms of energy efficiency and operator attention. Electric motors were also lower in capital cost. Frederick W. Taylor was the best known pioneer in the field of scientific management in the late 19th century, carefully timing and plotting the functions of various workers and then devising new, more efficient ways for them to do their jobs.
Ford Motor Co. Ford Motor used every practical means to reduce the effort and movement of workers in order to reduce the time involved in making parts, moving parts and assembling parts into automobiles. Ford used electric powered factories and in Ford introduced the assembly line , a step in the process that became known as mass-production. Production grew from 13, in to , in However, Ford expanded the company's Sociological Department to monitor his workers and ensure that they did not spend their newfound bounty on "vice and cheap thrills".
Gasoline powered tractors were introduced. The Fordson began mass production in Electric street railways developed into a major mode of transportation, and electric inter-urban service connected many cities in the Northeast and Midwest. Electric street railways also carried freight, which was important before trucks became widely introduced. Electrochemicals are chemicals and metals produced by an electrolytic process.
Chlorine and caustic had been produced by chemical processes but producing aluminum this way was prohibitively expensive. Falling electricity prices in the early 20th century greatly lowered the cost of making electrochemicals. There was high demand for aluminum for aircraft during World War I and afterward for commercial aviation.
At the beginning of the 20th century the railroad network had over-expanded with many miles of unprofitable routes. In Congress gave the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to regulate freight rates and the industry was unable to increase revenue enough to cover rising costs.
By , the peak year of track mileage, one-sixth of the nations railroad trackage was in bankruptcy. The railroads proved inadequate to the increased freight volume created by World War I. There were major traffic jams in the system and critical supplies were experiencing delays. The USRA ordered 1, new standardized steam locomotives and over , railcars. By the dawn of the 20th century, automobiles had begun to replace horse-drawn carriages. Consequently, prices were high and production was low.
Mass production techniques of the mid s brought down the cost of automobiles and sales grew dramatically. By automobile registrations were 6.
Replacing horses with cars and trucks eliminated enormous quantities of horse manure and urine from city streets, greatly reducing the labor for street cleaning and also improving sanitation and living conditions. In there were only miles of paved roads outside of cities in the U. The Federal road building program ended in , leaving states to build roads until the Federal Road act of A national highway system was agreed on in , at which time there were In , when an interstate program not to be confused with the Dwight D.
The system was nearly complete when the U. At the turn of the century approximately one-third of urban households had running water; however, most of it was untreated and carried disease causing microorganisms. The widespread building of water treatment plants and piping of water to and sewage from urban households occurred in the early decades of the century.
The number of urban households supplied with running filtered water increased from 6. Tractors appeared on farms and farmers began using automobiles and trucks to haul produce. The number of farms in the U.
History of the American Economy, 11e
S have decreased from 7 million in the s to just a little over 2 million in The rate of decline was most rapid in s—s, the reason for this was because of the increased innovation in farms where new technology was able to create more product which resulted in the need for fewer farms. Also during the s—s people moved from the bigger cities and farms to more suburban areas so these smaller farms would be sold and people would move closer to cities.
People also could not afford the new technologies to help them farm so bigger farms would be very successful during this time, while smaller farms would close. Before telephones were used primarily by businesses. The number of telephones per households was approximately 2 in , but the number steadily grew until it peaked at 45 in , then declined to 33 in By , Radio communications using Morse code were introduced in the first decade of the 20th century.
Their main use was for communicating with ships. Ship radio became more widely used after the sinking of the RMS Titanic in Radio technology advanced rapidly. The triode vacuum tube made it possible to build amplifiers for broadcasting and for receivers.
Radio circuit design also advanced, allowing better signals with less noise. By the early s radios began being mass-produced and commercial broadcast stations were set up around the country. A major economic downturn in ended the expansion from the late s. This was followed by the Panic of The Panic of was a factor in the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank in The mild inflation of the s, attributed to the rising gold supply from mining, continued until World War I, at which time inflation rose sharply with wartime shortages including labor shortages.
Following the war the rate of inflation fell, but prices remained above the prewar level. The stock market had its best year in history in Interest rates rose and the money supply contracted. The economy entered the Depression of , which was a sharp decline financially. By , the economy had returned to full employment. A debt-fueled boom developed following the war. Jerome gives an unattributed quote about finance conditions that allowed the great industrial expansion of the post World War I period:.
Probably never before in this country had such a volume of funds been available at such low rates for such a long period. There was also a real estate and housing bubble in the s, especially in Florida, which burst in Florida land boom of the s. Debt reached unsustainable levels. Speculation in stocks drove prices up to unpresented valuation levels.
The stock market crashed in late October Another such act passed the same year was the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The new laws helped the large packers, and hurt small operations that lacked economy of scale or quality controls. The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution , which allowed the Federal Government to tax all income, was adopted in In the early years of American history, most political leaders were reluctant to involve the federal government too heavily in the private sector, except in the area of transportation.
In general, they accepted the concept of laissez-faire , a doctrine opposing government interference in the economy except to maintain law and order. This attitude started to change during the latter part of the 19th century, when small business, farm, and labor movements began asking the government to intercede on their behalf.
By the start of the 20th century, a middle class had developed that was leery of both the business elite and the somewhat radical political movements of farmers and laborers in the Midwest and West. Known as Progressives , these people favored government regulation of business practices to, in their minds, ensure competition and free enterprise.
Congress enacted a law regulating railroads in the Interstate Commerce Act , and one preventing large firms from controlling a single industry in the Sherman Antitrust Act. These laws were not rigorously enforced, however, until the years between and , when Republican President Theodore Roosevelt — , Democrat President Woodrow Wilson — , and others sympathetic to the views of the Progressives came to power.
Many of today's U.
Ida M. Tarbell wrote a series of articles against the Standard Oil monopoly.
The series helped pave the way for the breakup of the monopoly. Muckrakers were journalists who encouraged readers to demand more regulation of business. Upton Sinclair 's The Jungle showed America the horrors of the Chicago Union Stock Yards , a giant complex of meat processing that developed in the s.
The federal government responded to Sinclair's book with the new regulatory Food and Drug Administration. When Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected President with a Democrat controlled Congress in he implemented a series of progressive policies.
In , the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified, and the income tax was instituted in the United States. Wilson resolved the longstanding debates over tariffs and antitrust, and created the Federal Reserve , a complex business-government partnership that to this day dominates the financial world. The World War involved a massive mobilization of money, taxes, and banking resources to pay for the American war effort and, through government-to-government loans, most of the Allied war effort as well.
Under Republican President Warren G. Harding , who called for normalcy and an end to high wartime taxes, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon raised the tariff, cut marginal tax rated and used the large surplus to reduce the federal debt by about a third from to Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover worked to introduce efficiency, by regulating business practices.
This period of prosperity, along with the culture of the time, was known as the Roaring Twenties. The rapid growth of the automobile industry stimulated industries such as oil, glass, and road-building. Tourism soared and consumers with cars had a much wider radius for their shopping. Small cities prospered, and large cities had their best decade ever, with a boom in construction of offices, factories and homes.
The new electric power industry transformed both business and everyday life. Telephones and electricity spread to the countryside, but farmers never recovered from the wartime bubble in land prices.
Millions migrated to nearby cities. However, in October , the Stock market crashed and banks began to fail in the Wall Street Crash of The early decades of the 20th century was remarkable for the improvements of the quality of life in the U.
The quality of housing improved, with houses offering better protection against cold. Floor space per occupant increased. Sanitation was greatly improved by the building of water supply and sewage systems, plus the treatment of drinking water by filtration and chlorination.
The change over to internal combustion took horses off the streets and eliminated horse manure and urine and the flies they attracted. Infant mortality, which had been declining dramatically in the last quarter of the 19th century, continued to decline. The workweek, which averaged 53 hours in , continued to decline.
The burden of household chores lessened considerably.
Railroads and American Economic Growth: A "Market Access" Approach
Hauling water and firewood into the home every day was no longer necessary for an increasing number of households. Electric light was far less expensive and higher quality than kerosene lamp light. Electric light also eliminated smoke and fumes and reduced the fire hazard.
Despite the Great Depression and World War II, the middle decades of the 20th century were among the highest for productivity growth. Productivity growth in manufacturing slowed from the electrification era of the early century, but remained moderate. Automation of factories became widespread during the middle decades as industry invested in newly developed instruments and controls that allowed fewer workers to operate vast factories, refineries and chemical plants with fewer workers.
Following the stock market crash, the worldwide economy plunged into the Great Depression. Congress, in , worried about the rapidly growing deficit and national debt, and raised income tax rates.Mass production techniques of the mid s brought down the cost of automobiles and sales grew dramatically.
The triode vacuum tube made it possible to build amplifiers for broadcasting and for receivers. The volume opens with several essays that together discuss, in the context of the founding of the United States, how initial property endowments shape property-rights institutions, which in turn shape the development and growth of both the economy and the government.
The average age was under 20, with children everywhere. Towns were located on or near the coasts or navigable inland waterways. Many remained in eastern cities, especially mill towns and mining camps, while those with farm experience and some savings bought farms in the West.
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