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Trade and Empire

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  • Kris James Mitchener
  • Marc Weidenmier

Abstract

Although many modern studies find large and significant effects of prior colonial status on bilateral trade, there is very little empirical research that has focused on the contemporaneous impact of empire on trade. We employ a new database of over 21,000 bilateral trade observations during the Age of High Imperialism, 1870-1913, to quantitatively assess the effect of empire on trade. Our augmented gravity model shows that belonging to an empire roughly doubled trade relative to those countries that were not part of an empire. The positive impact that empire exerts on trade does not appear to be sensitive to whether the metropole was Britain, France, Germany, Spain, or the United States or to the inclusion of other institutional factors such as being on the gold standard. In addition, we examine some of the channels through which colonial status impacted bilateral trade flows. The empirical analysis suggests that empires increased trade by lowering transactions costs and by establishing trade policies that promoted trade within empires. In particular, the use of a common language, the establishment of currency unions, the monetizing of recently acquired colonies, preferential trade arrangements, and customs unions help to account for the observed increase in trade associated with empire.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13765.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13765

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Becker, Sascha O. & Boeckh, Katrin & Hainz, Christa & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire! Long-Run Persistence of Trust and Corruption in the Bureaucracy," IZA Discussion Papers 5584, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Lavallée, Emmanuelle & Lochard, Julie, 2012. "Independence and trade: the specic effects of French colonialism," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/9564, Paris Dauphine University.
  3. Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, 2005. "The Empire Effect: Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880-1913," Economic History 0509002, EconWPA.
  4. Jacks, David S. & Meissner, Christopher M. & Novy, Dennis, 2011. "Trade booms, trade busts, and trade costs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 185-201, March.
  5. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2012. "From Empire to Europe: Britain in the World Economy," Economics Series Working Papers Number 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Yaron Zelekha & Eyal Sharabi, 2012. "Corruption, institutions and trade," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 169-192, June.
  7. Guillaume Daudin, 2010. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late 18th century France," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/b0ghejdpldr, Sciences Po.
  8. David S. Jacks & Christopher M. Meissner & Dennis Novy, 2006. "Trade Costs in the First Wave of Globalization," NBER Working Papers 12602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lavallée, Emmanuelle & Lochard, Julie, 2012. "Independence and trade: new evidence from French colonial trade data," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10246, Paris Dauphine University.
  10. D'Souza, Anna, 2012. "The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: Changing the currents of trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 73-87.
  11. Herzfeld, Thomas & Drescher, Larissa S. & Grebitus, Carola, 2008. "Spread of retailer food quality standards: An international perspective," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44005, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  12. Guilllaume Daudin, Matthias Morys and Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2008. "Globalization, 1870-1914," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp250, IIIS.
  13. Pinilla, Vicente & Serranoz, Raul, 2008. "The agricultural and food trade in the first globalisation: Spanish table wine exports 1871 to 1935 – a case study," Working Papers 42657, American Association of Wine Economists.
  14. Guillaume Daudin & Matthias Morys & Kevin H. O’Rourke, 2008. "Europe and Globalization, 1870-1914," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2008-17, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).

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