Empire Effect versus Crowding Out Effect: Shipping Productivity in the North Atlantic from 1764 to 1860
22 Pages Posted: 6 May 2017
Date Written: May 5, 2017
While there is a rich literature on the benefits of empire in terms of the provision of key public goods—notably security for international trade—the costs have been downplayed. In this paper, we focus on merchant shipping data between Canada and Britain between 1764 and 1860 to measure these costs. Imperial hegemony would have implied greater security for shippers and this, in turn, would have stimulated investments in productivity. However, we contend that a counter-effect would have operated simultaneously. The provision of greater security meant greater military navies which crowded out merchant navies in terms of availability of capital and labor. We argue that the benefit of the “security effect” has to be weighed against the cost of the “crowding-out” effect. We find that the “crowding-out effect” was larger than the “security effect.” For “security effects” to overpower “crowding out effects,” one had to have a very small navy in absolute terms but a large one relative to other military powers.
Keywords: empire effect; crowding-out; defense economics; British navy
JEL Classification: H56; N40; E60
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation