04/2010 Alexander Klein and Nicholas Crafts
This paper investigates the ability of the new economic geography to explain the persistence of the manufacturing belt in the United States around the turn of the 20th century using a model which subsumes both market-potential and factor-endowment arguments. The results show that market potential was central to the existence of the manufacturing belt, that it mattered more than factor endowments, and that its impact came through interactions both with scale economies and with linkage effects. Natural advantage played a role in industrial location but only through agricultural inputs which were important for a small subset of manufacturing.
Journal of Economic Geography 2012