The economic effects of state labor laws: a comparison between Massachusetts and South Carolina during the Antebellum period (1812-1860)
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The United States experienced a steady economic growth during the 19th century. However, this economic advancement differentiated greatly between the Northern and Southern states. In this thesis, I will make a micro/state-level comparison of the deviating economies of Massachusetts and South Carolina during the Antebellum period (1812-1860). The pre- existing literature primarily focuses on regional factors to describe the growing economic chiasm between the North and the South, briefly citing specific states. This thesis will solely focus on one economic component that greatly defined the country’s and states’ economic progress, namely labor. It wants to make a qualitative and quantitative contribution by mainly focusing on enacted state labor laws by the Massachusetts and South Carolina legislature, while linking it with primary statistical data of the respective states’ economies. In contrast with other studies, this thesis will make a state-level comparison arguing that the early growing economic chiasm between Massachusetts and South Carolina only exacerbated during the Antebellum period, somewhat explainable by their respective state labor laws.