[UPDATE: clarifying definitions. In the paper below, the frontier is by definition very sparsely settled. Also, “Greater Appalachia” as Woodard uses the term describes the Scots-Irish who gradually spread westward, not simply people born in what we now call Appalachia]
In our simple conceptual framework, the significance of the frontier can be explained by three factors. First, frontier locations attracted individualists able to thrive in harsh conditions. Second, the frontier experience, characterized by isolation and low population density, further promoted the development of self-reliance. At the same time, favorable prospects for upward mobility through effort nurtured hostility to redistribution. Finally, frontier populations affected local culture at a critical juncture, thus leaving a lasting imprint.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen.
My immediate reaction is to interpret this using Colin Woodard’s 11-nations model, in which he divides the U.S. into cultural sub-nations. The nation most likely to seek out the frontier would be Greater Appalachia. The other migratory nations that settled the west were Yankeedom, which was very community-oriented and would have avoided the frontier, and Midlands, which also preferred to live in towns or farming communities, rather than in isolated frontier settlements. The political and cultural description that Bazziy and co-authors give to frontier-influenced populations does seem to fit the Greater Appalachia Jacksonian model.