The Baleen Whales’ Saving Grace: The Introduction of Petroleum Based Products in the Market and Its Impact on the Whaling Industry
This paper presents empirical evidence which indicates that the introduction of petroleum based products on the American markets was a significant factor in reducing the demand for whale oil. As a result, the whaling industry, America’s 5th largest industry at the time, soon collapsed. A counterfactual study is then presented which suggests that if the introduction of petroleum based products had been delayed, then the increase in demand as a result of rising GDP per capita, as well as rapid industrialization, would have given whalers incentive to continue chasing after a diminishing whale population. This could have resulted in the baleen whale population being subject to unsustainable harvest levels.
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