How The South Got Left Behind

Andrew Sullivan —  May 3 2011 @ 9:17am


Vivek Nemana ponders the Civil War and "the cleavage between an industrial, prosperous North, and a rural, underdeveloped South, a distinction that persists in some ways even today":

The Union won in large part because of its industrial advantage, and its victory installed in the South what should have been better conditions for economic growth – liberal, more universal property rights and the abolition of slavery.

But, according to a report by Art Carden:

Mutual fear and distrust made contracting and doing business across racial boundaries more expensive. As a result, Carden writes, “Southern entrepreneurs, innovators, and laborers relied more heavily on kinship networks and informal arrangements than on formal markets.” And these factors were self-reinforcing, Carden argues, breeding a cycle of mistrust, ignorance and poverty.

(Map: U.S. wealth distribution in 1870)