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On the Death of Distance and Borders: Evidence from the Nineteenth Century


  • David S. Jacks


In this paper, we investigate time-dependent border and distance effects in the nineteenth century and document clear declines in the importance of these variables through time. What this suggests, in light of the work for the post-1950 era, is that researchers might have correctly identified the increasing effect of distance on bilateral trade over time. In other words, trade costs may have not declined nearly as dramatically in the late twentieth century as has been supposed, especially in light of the nineteenth century, a time of documented trade cost decline and commodity market integration.

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Jacks, 2009. "On the Death of Distance and Borders: Evidence from the Nineteenth Century," NBER Working Papers 15250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15250
    Note: DAE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
    2. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 1996. "How Wide Is the Border?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1112-1125, December.
    3. Leamer, Edward E. & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "International trade theory: The evidence," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1339-1394 Elsevier.
    4. Berthelon, Matias & Freund, Caroline, 2008. "On the conservation of distance in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 310-320, July.
    5. Jacks, David S., 2006. "What drove 19th century commodity market integration?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 383-412, July.
    6. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2008. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 37-48, February.
    7. Shiue, Carol H., 2005. "From political fragmentation towards a customs union: Border effects of the German Zollverein, 1815 to 1855," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 129-162, August.
    8. Céline Carrère & Maurice Schiff, 2005. "On the Geography of Trade. Distance is Alive and Well," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 56(6), pages 1249-1274.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lin, Faqin & Sim, Nicholas C.S., 2012. "Death of distance and the distance puzzle," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 225-228.
    2. Mario J. Crucini & Gregor W. Smith, 2016. "Distance and Time Effects in Swedish Commodity Prices, 1732-1914," Working Papers 1357, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    3. Gianluca Cafiso, 2012. "Sectoral Trade Freeness and Agglomeration in the EU: An Empirical Test Strategy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4000, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Mario J. Crucini & Gregor W. Smith, 2014. "Geographic Barriers to Commodity Price Integration: Evidence from US Cities and Swedish Towns, 1732 - 1860," CAMA Working Papers 2014-75, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    5. Samuel Standaert & Stijn Ronsse & Benjamin Vandermarliere, 2016. "Historical trade integration: globalization and the distance puzzle in the long twentieth century," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 10(2), pages 225-250, May.
    6. Orestis VRAVOSINOS, 2017. "On the life and death of distance," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(1(610), S), pages 207-214, Spring.
    7. repec:agr:journl:v:xxiv:y:2017:i:1(610):p:207-214 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Douglas L. Campbell, 2010. "History, Culture, and Trade: A Dynamic Gravity Approach," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2010_26, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    10. David Cuberes, 2013. "Are Internet and Face-to-Face Contacts Complements or Substitutes? Evidence from Internet Traffic between Cities," Working Papers 2013010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    11. Stephane Becuwe & Bertrand Blancheton & Leo Charles & Matthieu Clement, 2015. "Asymmetric influence of distance on french international trade 1850-1913," EcoMod2015 8552, EcoMod.
    12. Gianluca Cafiso, 2015. "Sectoral trade freeness and agglomeration in the EU: an empirical test approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 779-805, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative

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