Overseas Trade and the Decline of Privateering

60 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2008 Last revised: 23 Nov 2010

See all articles by Henning Hillmann

Henning Hillmann

University of Mannheim

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: October 24, 2010


Using novel quantitative historical data on 2,483 British privateering cruises, we show that state-licensed commerce raiding by merchants was not only a popular and potentially flourishing business, but also effective in harming enemy trade during the long eighteenth century (1688-1815). Why, then, did privateering merchants gradually turn away from the enterprise, despite their success? We provide systematic evidence that the expansion of overseas trade and ensuing decline in the revenues of commerce raiding facilitated the decline of British privateering and the transition to a full public provision of sea power by the Royal Navy by the end of the Napoleonic War.

Keywords: Privateering, Navy, Trade, Britain, Public Good, National Defense

JEL Classification: N73, N43, N13, K42, H56, B15, D23

Suggested Citation

Hillmann, Henning and Gathmann, Christina, Overseas Trade and the Decline of Privateering (October 24, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112111 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1112111

Henning Hillmann

University of Mannheim ( email )

A5, 6
Mannheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg D-68131

Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=en&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos%

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~cgathman

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