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  • Cited by 3
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Fouquet, Roger 2016. Path dependence in energy systems and economic development. Nature Energy, Vol. 1, Issue. 8, p. 16098.

    Kitchens, Carl T. and Jaworski, Taylor 2016. Ownership and the price of residential electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935–1940. Explorations in Economic History,

    Kitchens, Carl and Fishback, Price 2015. Flip the Switch: The Impact of the Rural Electrification Administration 1935–1940. The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 75, Issue. 04, p. 1161.


The Role of Publicly Provided Electricity in Economic Development: The Experience of the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1929–1955

  • Carl Kitchens (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 16 May 2014

I study the impacts of one of the largest regional development projects in American History, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), on a variety of economic outcomes. The TVA has been noted as an example of how to develop a region's water power potential to stimulate growth. In what follows, I show using a county-level panel dataset, that the TVA had little impact on economic growth in the South. I attribute these results to the institutional history of the TVA and the contractual agreements it signed in an effort to expand its service territory.

“…as a pebble dropped in a pond causes ripples to flow outward to the surrounding shores, the influence of TVA'slow rates flows outward to surrounding areas…”

TVA's Influence on Electric Rates 1965

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I would like to thank Jean-Laurent Rosenthal and two anonymous referees for their comments that substantially improved this article. I would also like to thank Price Fishback, Jonah Gelbach, Paul Rhode, Taylor Jaworski, Briggs Depew, Theresa Gutberlet, Todd Sorenson, and Manuela Angelucci, participants at the Southern Economic Association Meetings 2011, and Stanford Institute of Theoretical Economics 2012 for helpful comments. Financial support for this project came from the Economic History Association Travel Grant 2010 and the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant Number 1022756.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Timothy Besley , Torsten Persson , and Daniel M. Sturm . “Political Competition, Policy and Growth: Theory and Evidence from the U.S.The Review of Economic Studies 77, no. 4 (2010): 1329–52.

Taryn Dinkelman . “The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa.The American Economic Review 101, no. 7 (2011): 30783108.

Esther Duflo , and Rohini Pande . “Dams.The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, no. 2 (2007): 601–46.

Price V. Fishback , William C. Horrace , and Shawn Kantor . “Did New Deal Grant Programs Stimulate Local Economies? A Study of Federal Grants and Retail Sales During the Great Depression.The Journal of Economic History 65, no. 1 (2005): 3671.

Robert K. Fleck Electoral Incentives, Public Policy, and the New Deal Realignment.Southern Economic Journal 65, no. 3 (1999): 377404.

Robert K. Fleck Voter Influence and Big Policy Change: The Positive Political Economy of the New Deal.Journal of Political Economy 116, no. 1 (2008): 137.

Thomas McCraw . Morgan vs. Lilienthal: The Feud within the TVA. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 1970.

Thomas McCraw TVA and the Power Fight, 1933–1939. New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1971.

Marcelo Moriera . “A Conditional Likelihood Ratio Test for Structural Models.Econometrica 71, no. 4 (2003): 1027–48.

Office of Power. Tennessee Valley Authority. “Rate Reductions by the Distributors of TVA Power.” Chattanooga, TN, July 1956.

Revenue Bond Financing by TVA. “Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee of Public Works United States Senate.” June 9–10, 1959.

Revenue Bond Financing by TVAHearing Before the Subcommittee on Flood Control: Rivers and Harbors.” June 28, 1966.

David Strömberg . “Radio's Impact on Public Spending.The Quarterly Journal of Economics 119, no. 1 (2004): 189221.

Tennessee Valley Authority. “TVA Annual Report.” Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1934–1939.

Tennessee Valley AuthorityTVA's Influence on Electric Rates.” Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1965.

The New York Times, various dates.

United States Federal Power Commission Rate Series No. 12. “Typical Monthly Bills.”Washington, DC: Office of Government Printing, 1938.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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