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Fighting the forces of gravity - Seapower and maritime trade between the 18th and 20th centuries


  • Rahman, Ahmed S.


How have large naval powers affected international commerce in history? Using a panel gravity model, we investigate the interactions of wars, alliances, naval power and trade from the 18th to mid-20th centuries. Striking an alliance with a naval power helps a country's interstate commerce. Fighting a naval power on the other hand limits a country's interstate commerce. Further, we split this effect on trade between an extensive effect (effect on a country's trade when fighting a naval power) and an intensive effect (effect of that power gaining more naval strength). We conclude that the intensive effect is a powerful one - large navies have historically been destroyers of trade when mobilized to combat.

Suggested Citation

  • Rahman, Ahmed S., 2010. "Fighting the forces of gravity - Seapower and maritime trade between the 18th and 20th centuries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 28-48, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:28-48

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Glaser, Darrell J. & Rahman, Ahmed S., 2016. "Ex Tridenti Mercatus? Sea-power and maritime trade in the age of globalization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 95-111.

    More about this item


    D74 F02 F10 F51 N40 N70 Trade War Naval history;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative


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