, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 163–192 | Cite as

The rise of the US Portland cement industry and the role of public science

  • David Prentice
Original Paper


American Portland cement rose spectacularly during the 1890s from being a niche product to dominating a much larger market. The contributions of innovations, factor endowments and public science—factors highlighted as contributing to the more general American industrialization occurring at the same time—are analyzed. The successful commercialization of the rotary kiln, enabled by abundant supplies of fuels and minerals, played a key role, as did greater demand. Geological surveys, as highlighted by David and Wright, assisted in some states, but an econometric entry model does not demonstrate that they made a systematic significant contribution to the rise.


US industrialization Public science Portland cement Entry models 

JEL Classifications

N61 N41 



This paper began while visiting UCLA. Additional work was done at Lehigh University and the author is most appreciative of the hospitality of both universities. The author is also grateful to Naomi Lamoreaux and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal whose suggestions got this paper off the ground and gave it direction. The paper has also benefited from comments from anonymous referees, Mary Deily, Lionel Frost, Gary Magee, Simon Ville, Gavin Wright and from participants at seminars at Deakin University, La Trobe University, Lehigh University and the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and FinanceLa Trobe UniversityAustralia

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