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Temporary protection and technology adoption: evidence from the Napoleonic blockade

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  • Juhász, Réka

Abstract

This paper uses a natural experiment to assess whether temporary protection from trade with industrial leaders can foster development of infant industries in follower countries. Using a new dataset compiled from primary sources, I find that in the short-run regions (départements) in the French Empire which became better protected from trade with the British for exogenous reasons during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15) increased capacity in a new technology, mechanised cotton spinning, to a larger extent than regions which remained more exposed to trade. Temporary protection had long term effects. In particular, by exploiting the fact that the post-war location of the cotton industry was determined to a large extent by the historical accident of the wars, I first show that the location of cotton spinning within France was persistent, and firms located in regions with higher post-war spinning capacity were more productive 30 years later. Second, I find that after the restoration of peace, exports of cotton goods from France increased substantially, consistent with evolving comparative advantage in cottons. Third, I show that as late as 1850, France and Belgium - both part of the French Empire prior to 1815 - had larger cotton spinning industries than other Continental European countries which were not protected from British trade during the wars; this suggests that adoption of the new technology was far from inevitable.

Suggested Citation

  • Juhász, Réka, 2014. "Temporary protection and technology adoption: evidence from the Napoleonic blockade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60697, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60697
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/60697/
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    Cited by:

    1. William Hanlon, 2017. "Dynamic Comparative Advantage in International Shipbuilding: The Transition from Wood to Steel," 2017 Meeting Papers 140, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. repec:eee:juecon:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:34-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fuchs-Schündeln, N. & Hassan, T.A., 2016. "Natural Experiments in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    infant industry; technology adoption; industrial revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • N63 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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