New Estimates of the Average Tariff of the United States, 1790-1820

20 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2003 Last revised: 12 Oct 2022

See all articles by Douglas A. Irwin

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2003


This paper presents new estimates of the average tariff on total and dutiable U.S. imports from 1790 to 1820. These previously unavailable series are comparable to the tariff figures available from 1821 in the Historical Statistics of the United States. These early tariffs were much lower, on average, than those imposed later in the nineteenth century. The paper stresses the importance of deducting drawbacks (tariff rebates on imported goods that are subsequently re-exported) from total customs revenue in calculating the average tariff and briefly examines the structure of tariffs across goods.

Suggested Citation

Irwin, Douglas A., New Estimates of the Average Tariff of the United States, 1790-1820 (April 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9616, Available at SSRN:

Douglas A. Irwin (Contact Author)

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