Shipping and Economic Growth 1350-1850


In sixteen essays authors explore the dramatic rise in the efficiency of European shipping in the three centuries before the Industrial Revolution. They offer reasons for the greater success of the sector than any other in making better use of labor. They describe the roots - political, organizational, technological, ecological, human - of rising productivity, treating those sources both theoretically and empirically. Comparisons with China show why Europeans came to dominate Asian waters. Building on past research, the volume is a statement of what is known about that critical sector of the early modern European economy and indicates the contribution shipping made to the emergence of the West as the dominant force on the oceans of the world.
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Biographical Note

Richard W. Unger holds a doctorate in economic history from Yale University. He is a Professor of History at the University of British Columbia and has published articles and books on the history of ship design and shipping in premodern Europe as well as on beer production and cartography in the Renaissance.

Table of contents

List of Figures, Tables and Illustrations Preface List of Abbreviations THE PROBLEM AND THE PROPOSITION 1. Shipping, Productivity and Economic Growth, Jan Lucassen and Richard W. Unger PRODUCTIVITY TRENDS IN VARIOUS SHIPPING REGIMES 2. Productivity Changes in Shipping in the Dutch Republic: the Evidence from Freight Rates, 1550-1800, Milja van Tielhof and Jan Luiten van Zanden 3. The Strange Tale of the Decline of Spanish Shipping, Regina Grafe 4. Productivity in English Atlantic Shipping in the Seventeenth Century: Evidence from the Navigation Acts, Nuala Zahedieh 5. Institutions and the Environment: Shipping Movements in the North Sea/Baltic Zone, 1650-1800, David Ormrod 6. Productivity Change in Eighteenth Century Finnish Shipping, Jari Ojala 7. The Macau - Nagasaki Route (1570-1640): Portuguese Ships and their Cargoes, Rui Loureiro 8. Why Shipping “Declined” in China from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century, Kent G. Deng 9. Operational Efficiencies and the Decline of the Chinese Junk Trade in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: The Connection, Paul A. Van Dyke SOURCES OF PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH 10. Ship Design and Energy Use, 1350-1875, Richard W. Unger 11. Work on the Docks: Sailors’ Labour Productivity and the Organization of Loading and Unloading, Jan Lucassen 12. Total Factor Productivity for the Royal Navy from Victory at Texel (1653) to Triumph at Trafalgar (1805), Patrick O'Brien and Xavier Duran 13. Sailors, National and International Labour Markets and National Identity, 1600-1850, Jelle van Lottum, Jan Lucassen and Lex Heerma van Voss 14. Characterization of Technological Change in the Shipping Industry, 1350-1800, Xavier Duran 15. Seaports as Centres of Economic Growth: the Portuguese Case, 1500-1800, Amélia Polónia Bibliography Notes on Contributors Index


Economic historians and political and institutional historians of early modern Europe and East Asia, as well as people interested in ships and travel by sea.