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1846 and All That: The Rise and Fall of British Wheat Protection in the Nineteenth Century


  • Paul Sharp

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)


By documenting the legislative history of the Corn Laws from 1670 and using previously unused data to calculate annual Ad Valorem Equivalents for most years from 1814, it is possible to establish several important facts about British wheat protection. Statutory protection was only significant for a few years after 1815, the decline starting in the 1820s and continuing beyond the famous “repeal” in 1846. The level of protection prior to 1846 was, for many years, much lower than previous accounts have suggested. The annual time series of Ad Valorem Equivalents will allow for UK trade policy to play the important role it deserves in econometric analyses of the nineteenth century.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Sharp, 2006. "1846 and All That: The Rise and Fall of British Wheat Protection in the Nineteenth Century," Discussion Papers 06-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0614

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tena-Junguito, Antonio & Lampe, Markus & Fernandes, Felipe Tâmega, 2012. "How Much Trade Liberalization Was There in the World Before and After Cobden-Chevalier?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 708-740, September.
    2. Groth, Christian & Persson, Karl Gunnar, 2016. "Growth or stagnation in pre-industrial Britain? A revealed income growth approach," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 264, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Uebele, Martin, 2011. "National and international market integration in the 19th century: Evidence from comovement," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 226-242, April.

    More about this item


    United Kingdom; Corn Laws; protectionism;

    JEL classification:

    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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