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The Welfare Cost of Autarky: Evidence from the Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807-1809

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  • Douglas A. Irwin

Abstract

The United States came close to complete autarky in 1808 as a result of a self-imposed embargo on international shipping from December 1807 to March 1809. Monthly prices of exported and imported goods reveal the embargo's striking effect on commodity markets and allow a calculation of its welfare effects. A simple general equilibrium calculation suggests that the embargo cost about 8 percent of America's 1807 GNP, at a time when the trade share was about 13 percent (domestic exports and shipping earnings). The welfare cost was lower than the trade share because the embargo did not completely eliminate trade and because domestic producers successfully shifted production toward previously imported manufactured goods.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8692.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Publication status: published as Irwin, Douglas A. "The Welfare Cost Of Autrky: Evidence From The Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807-09," Review of International Economics, 2005, v13(4,Sep), 631-645.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8692

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  1. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2004. "A Direct Test of the Theory of Comparative Advantage: The Case of Japan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 48-67, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2005. "An Empirical Assessment of the Comparative Advantage Gains from Trade: Evidence from Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 208-225, March.
  2. Arvind Panagariya, 2003. "Alternative Approaches to Measuring the Cost of Protection," International Trade, EconWPA 0308002, EconWPA.
  3. Ashley N. Coleman & William K. Hutchinson, 2006. "Determinants of Slave Prices: Louisiana, 1725 to 1820," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0624, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. Douglas A. Irwin & Joseph H. Davis, 2003. "Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 9944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Arvind Panagariya, 2002. "Cost of Protection: Where Do We Stand?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 175-179, May.

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