Production, Prices, and Technology: A Historical Analysis of the United States Coal Industry

Mike Matheis

Abstract


This article contributes to the literature regarding non-renewable resource extraction and production by using historical accounts and newly-collected county coal mining production, average value, and employment data, spanning the entire United States from 1900 to 1976, to analyze how fluctuations in prices and technology impacted the production decisions of the coal mining industry at the county level in the United States. It provides a description of how coal production, technology, and average prices changed throughout the twentieth century. It also provides evidence that coal producers responded in a significant way to variation in national and local coal prices, and that coal producers were aware, and responded at the local level, to the behavior of past coal prices.


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