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American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 7 (December 2011)

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Buffalo Hunt: International Trade and the Virtual Extinction of the North American Bison

Article Citation

Taylor, M Scott. 2011. "Buffalo Hunt: International Trade and the Virtual Extinction of the North American Bison." American Economic Review, 101(7): 3162-95.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.7.3162

Abstract

In the sixteenth century, North America contained 25 to 30 million buffalo; by the late nineteenth century fewer than 100 remained. While removing the buffalo east of the Mississippi took over 100 years, the remaining 10 to 15 million buffalo on the Great Plains were killed in a punctuated slaughter lasting little more than ten years. I employ theory, international trade statistics, and first-person accounts to argue the slaughter was initiated by a foreign-made innovation and fueled by a foreign demand for industrial leather. European demand and American policy failure are jointly responsible for the "Slaughter on the Plains." (JEL F14, N51, N71, Q57)

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Authors

Taylor, M. Scott (U Calgary and Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics)

JEL Classifications

F14: Country and Industry Studies of Trade
N51: Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N71: Economic History: Transport, Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
Q57: Ecological Economics: Ecosystem Services; Biodiversity Conservation; Industrial Ecology


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