This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Industrialization, Deindustrialization and Re-Industrialization in a Southern U.S. State: Alabama from 1970-2010




Bolden, Nicholas

Type of Degree



Political Science


Over the last fifty years, the U.S. has transitioned through three periods of manufacturing, (a) “The Industrial Period” from 1945-1979, (b) “Deindustrialization of America from 1980-2000, and (c) “Re-industrialization of America” from 2000-present. Since the late 1960's, the United States began to shift to an economy largely dominated with service and knowledge jobs and reduction of labor-intensive manufacturing. Over the past few decades, the subsequent effects of labor-intensive manufacturing employment decline have been observed in all twenty-one industries that make up the U.S. industrial sector. This raises many questions. Does the Re-industrialization strategy of the American south make-up for the economic downs (increased unemployment, increase income inequality, increase poverty) of the Deindustrialization period? Many scholars assert that the resurgence of income inequality and growing poverty in some advanced industrialized societies is a direct consequence of growing capital-intensive labor manufacturing. Capital-intensive manufacturing promotes capital profits that stimulate economic wealth for a small percentage of the U.S. population, including the south. This “development” issue seems to be shaping up the political agenda of the upcoming state elections across the south, especially in Alabama. This study empirically compares the levels of income inequality and poverty during the Industrial Period, Deindustrialization Period and the Re-Industrialization period in State of Alabama, as a case study. While there exists a sizeable amount of literature devoted to assessing the general effects of deindustrialization, research has devoted lesser attention to comparing the soci-economic effect of the Re-industrialization period compared to the previous two periods. This research will address those oversights, as applied particularly to this one Southern state. Utilizing a panel data set of all 67 Alabama counties during the period of 1970-2010, this study indicates that the new Re-industrialization strategy utilized by Alabama has had, in fact, an minimal impact on the growing poverty and income inequality within its borders.