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Cheap Labor and Southern Textiles before 1880

Gavin Wright
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 39, No. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 655-680
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2119686
Page Count: 26
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Cheap Labor and Southern Textiles before 1880
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Abstract

Labor costs historically have been decisive in determining the location of cotton textile production. Despite an apparent advantage in wage rates, however, the southern industry did not achieve sustained relative progress before about 1875. This study argues that in most times and places the region did not have "cheap labor" before this date. What matters is not just the level of wages in any year, but the quality of labor attracted at this wage and the geographic scope of the labor market within which firms operate. The scope of the labor market depends in turn on property rights and incentives toward recruitment activity.

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