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Historical trade integration: globalization and the distance puzzle in the long twentieth century

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  • Samuel Standaert

    () (Department of Economics, Ghent University)

  • Stijn Ronsse

    () (Department of Economics, Ghent University)

  • Benjamin Vandermarliere

    () (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ghent University)

Abstract

In times of ongoing globalization, the notion of geographic neutrality expects the impact of distance on trade to become ever more irrelevant. However, over the last three decades a wide range of studies has found an increase in the importance of distance during the second half of the twentieth century. This paper tries to reframe this discussion by characterizing the effect of distance over a broader historical point of view. To make maximal use of the available data, we use a state-space model to construct a bilateral index of historical trade integration. Our index doubles to quadruples yearly data availability before 1950, allowing us to expand the period of analysis to 1880–2011. This implies that the importance of distance as a determinant of the changing trade pattern can be analyzed for both globalization waves. In line with O’Rourke (Politics and trade: lessons from past globalisations. Technical Report, Bruegel, 2009) and Jacks et al. (J Int Econ 83(2):185–201, 2011), we find that the first wave was marked by a strong, continuing decrease in the effect of distance. Initially, the second globalization wave started out similarly, but from the 1960s onward the importance of distance starts increasing. Nevertheless, this change is dwarfed by the strong decrease preceding it.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Standaert & Stijn Ronsse & Benjamin Vandermarliere, 2016. "Historical trade integration: globalization and the distance puzzle in the long twentieth century," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 10(2), pages 225-250, may.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:10:y:2016:i:2:p:225-250
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11698-015-0130-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," Trinity Economics Papers tep0107, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    2. Jonathan Hersh & Joachim Voth, 2009. "Sweet diversity: Colonial goods and the rise of European living standards after 1492," Economics Working Papers 1163, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2011.
    3. Robert C. Allen, 2003. "Progress and poverty in early modern Europe," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 403-443, August.
    4. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
    5. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
    6. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, December.
    7. Costa, Leonor Freire & Palma, Nuno & Reis, Jaime, 2013. "The great escape? The contribution of the empire to Portugal’s economic growth, 1500-1800," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp13-07, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    8. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stijn Ronsse & Samuel Standaert, 2017. "Combining growth and level data: an estimation of the population of Belgian cities between 1880 and 1970," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 17/927, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trade integration Globalization Distance puzzle State-space model;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • C4 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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