Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Robert Q. Hanham.

Committee Co-Chair

Trevor Harris

Committee Member

Robert McKay


This research presents an empirical test of the effect of economic growth on productivity in manufacturing within the Pittsburgh region from 1850 to 1900. Theoretical research in economic geography refers to this as Verdoorn's 'law'. The underlying reason for this relationship is the positive impact of economic growth on technological development, which translates into changes in productivity. This study provides an empirical test of this relationship at a very different scale and time frame than previous studies, namely the counties within the Pittsburgh nodal economic region. The period from 1850 to 1900 was one in which the Pittsburgh region developed from a relatively minor economic center to a major steel producing region of the American manufacturing belt. The period also closely corresponds to the second Kondratieff wave of competitive industrial capitalism which began in the 1840s, peaked in the 1870s and ended in the depression of the 1890s. Using data for 37 counties from the Census of Manufacturers, the Verdoorn relationship was estimated by OLS regression. The results indicate that the relationship was positive throughout the time period, and significant only in the earlier and later decades of the second half of the nineteenth century. The study concluded with an analysis of residuals for each decade, which provided evidence of other general and county-specific factors which were responsible for productivity change in the region.