In Support of the Turner Hypothesis for the 19th Century American West: A Biological Response to Recent Criticisms

51 Pages Posted: 30 May 2018

See all articles by Scott A. Carson

Scott A. Carson

University of Texas of the Permian Basin; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: April 16, 2018

Abstract

In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner proposed that America’s Western frontier was an economic ‘safety-valve,’ a place where settlers could migrate when conditions in eastern states and Europe crystalized against their upward economic mobility. However, recent studies suggest the Western frontier’s material conditions may not have been as advantageous as Jackson proposed because settlers lacked the knowledge and human capital to succeed on the Plains and Far Western frontier. This study illustrates that current and cumulative net nutrition on the Central Plains improved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, indicating that recent challenges to the Turner hypothesis are not well supported by net nutrition studies. Net nutrition improve with agricultural innovations and biotechnologies on the western frontier, and rural agricultural workers net nutrition was better than from elsewhere within the US.

Keywords: nineteenth century black and white stature variation, urbanization, US Central Plains

JEL Classification: I100, J110, J710, N310

Suggested Citation

Carson, Scott A., In Support of the Turner Hypothesis for the 19th Century American West: A Biological Response to Recent Criticisms (April 16, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6969, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3186396

Scott A. Carson (Contact Author)

University of Texas of the Permian Basin ( email )

4901 East University
Odessa, TX 79762
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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