Micro level price data for USA – details

This electronic data archive was developed by Mario J. Crucini, Chris I. Telmer and Robert A. Margo. The original source document for this data is: Wholesale Commodity Prices in the United States, 1700-1861, Statistical Supplement, Actual Wholesale Prices of Various Commodities, by Arthur H. Cole, 1938, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

We are grateful to the following excellent research assistants who have toiled on this archive: PJ Glandon, Chih-Wei (Danny) Wang and Hakan Yilmazkuday.

Mario Crucini, Mototsugu Shintani, Christopher Telmer and Hakan Yilmazkuday gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation (SES- 1030164, and SES-0524868).

The price data consist of monthly price observations of 46 commodities, such as wheat, coal and cod.  Many of these good are specified down to the exact variety, such as No. 3 Red Wheat, thus the number of varieties is actually much larger, 549.

The sample period of observation begins in January 1700 and end in December 1861. The cities included in the panel are Boston, Charleston, Cinncinati,  New York, Boston, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.

Figure 1 shows the coverage of products (i.e., the number of available varieties out of 549) for each city over the monthly period of 1700-1861. Figure 2 shows the coverage time (i.e., the number of available months during 1700-1861) for each product.

The early part of the sample requires currency conversion. Look here for updates on that part of the project.

Subsets of this data set have been used in the following academic papers:

Crucini, Mario J. and Gregor W. Smith. How Wide Was the Ocean? U.S. and Swedish Commodity Price Dispersion from 1732 to 1860. Vandebilt University mimeo, September 2010.

Davis, Joseph H., Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode. 2009. Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Centry America. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 124(4): 1675-1727.

Grubb, Farley. 2003. Creating the U.S. Dollar Currency Union, 1748-1811: A Quest for Monetary Stability or a Usurpation of State Sovereignty for Personal Gain? American Economic Review, 93(5): 1778-1798.

Grubb, Farley. 2008. Testing for the Economic Impact of the U.S. Constitution: Purchasing Power Parity across the Colonies versus across the States, 1748-1811. NBER Working Paper 13836.

Jacks, David S. 2004. Market integration in the North and Baltic Seas, 1500-1800. Journal of European Economic History 33, 285–329.

Jacks, David S. 2005. Intra- and international commodity market integration in the Atlantic economy, 1800-1913. Explorations in Economic History 42, 381–413.

Jacks, David S. (2006a). What drove 19th century commodity market integration? Explorations in Economic History 43, 383–412.

Rosenbloom, Joshua L. 2002. Path Depedence and the Origins of Cotton Textile Manufacturing in New England. NBER Working Paper 9182.

Rousseau, Peter L. 2006. A common currency: Early US monetary policy and the transition to the dollar. Financial History Review 13.1, pp. 97–122.

Shepherd, James. 1965. A Balance of Payments for the Thirteen Colonies, 1768-1772: A Summary. The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 691-695.

Shiue, Carol H. and Wolfgang Keller. 2007. Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution. American Economic Review. 97(4): 1189-1216.

Steckel, Richard H. 2004. Fluctuations in a Dreadful Childhood: Synthetic Longitudinal Height Data, Relative Prices and Weather in the Short-term Health of American Slaves, NBER Working Paper 10993.

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