The Origins of American Resource Abundance

David, P.A. & Wright, G. (1996). The Origins of American Resource Abundance. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-96-015

[thumbnail of WP-96-015.pdf]

Download (1MB) | Preview


American manufacturing exports became increasingly resource-intensive over the very period, roughly 1880-1920, during which the U.S. ascended to the position of world leadership in manufacturing. This paper challenges the simplistic view that the resource-intensity of manufacturing reflected the country's abundant geological endowment of mineral deposits. Instead, it shows that in the century following 1850 the U.S. exploited its natural resource potentials to a far greater extent than other countries and did so across virtually the entire range of industrial minerals. It argues that "natural resource abundance" was an endogenous, "socially constructed" condition that was not geologically pre-ordained. It examines the complex legal, institutional, technological and organizational adaptations that shaped the U.S. supply-responses to the expanding domestic and international industrial demands for minerals and mineral-products. It suggests that the existence of strong "positive feedbacks"--even in the exploitation of depletable resources--was responsible for the explosive growth of the American minerals economy.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Technological and Economic Dynamics (TED)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:08
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item