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Regional economic development under trade liberalisation, technological change and market access: evidence from 19th century France and Belgium

Zobl, Franz Xaver (2018) Regional economic development under trade liberalisation, technological change and market access: evidence from 19th century France and Belgium. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.vdtqd1w0w0ng

Abstract

This PhD thesis analyses the spatial dimension of economic development in 19th century France and Belgium. During the 19th century Western European economies underwent a socio-economic and technological transformation to sustained rates of economic growth. The integration of domestic and foreign markets driven by declining transport costs and the reduction of trade barriers, shaped the economic geography of Western Europe. Consisting of three articles, this PhD thesis provides detailed empirical analyses of the spatial effects of trade liberalisation, technological change as well as the relative importance of market access and factor endowments. The first article studies the spatial effects of the Cobden-Chevalier treaty of 1860 which lifted all import prohibitions on British manufacturers, exposing French producers to intensified British competition. The results show that increased British competition has led to a shift in the spatial distribution of French production and employment. Regions located closer to Britain lost employment and output shares in industries which experienced a rising importance of British imports. The second article analyses the interrelatedness between the diffusion of power technologies and urbanisation. I ask the research question whether French adherence to water power, and slow diffusion of steam technologies, was associated with low urbanisation, limited gains from urban agglomeration and through this mechanism constrained economic development. I find that steam-powered firms were around twice as likely to be located in urban regions while water-powered firms were highly associated with rural municipalities. Moreover, urban firms paid higher wages and were more productive than their rural counterparts. The third article studies the importance of access to coal and markets to explain regional patterns of Belgian industrialisation. The analysis shows that both access to coal and markets played important roles, suggesting that supply and demand factors should be seen as necessary rather than sufficient conditions of 19th century industrialisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Franz Xaver Zobl
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Rosés, Joan and Schulze, Max
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3755

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