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Trade, Structural Transformation, and Development: Evidence from Argentina 1869–1914

We provide new theory and evidence on the role of external and internal integration in structural transformation and economic development, using Argentina’s integration into the world economy in the late nineteenth century. Our theoretical model provides microfoundations for a spatial Balassa-Samuelson effect, in which locations closer to world markets have higher population densities, urban population shares, relative prices of nontraded goods, and land prices relative to wages, as well as specializing in traded goods that are transport-cost sensitive. We estimate the model’s parameters, provide evidence in support of this spatial Balassa-Samuelson mechanism, and find substantial effects of both external and internal integration on economic development.