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Bursting Boilers and the Federal Power Redux The Evolution of Safety on the Western Rivers

Listed author(s):
  • Richard N. Langlois

    (University of Connecticut)

  • David J. Denault
  • Samson M. Kimenyi

    (University of Connecticut)

Using newly constructed data series on explosions, deaths, and steamboat traffic, we examine econometrically the causes of increased safety in steamboat boilers in the nineteenth century. Although the law of 1852 (but not that of 1838) did have a dramatic initial effect in reducing explosions, that reduction came against the background not of a system out of control but of a system that from the beginning was steadily increasing boiler safety per person- mile. The role of the federal government in conducting and disseminating basic research on boiler technology may have been more significant for increased safety than its explicit regulatory efforts.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1994-01.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: May 1994
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1994-01
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