Alexandra L. Cermeño, Kerstin Enflo, 03 January 2019

Urban growth is crucial for modernisation, and the wave of new towns in China since the 1980s is one example of a strategy employed by policymakers to encourage the process. This column analyses the long-run success of a town foundation policy in Sweden between 1570 and 1810. While the ‘artificially’ created towns failed to grow in the short term, they eventually began to grow and thrive, and today are as resilient as their medieval counterparts. 

David Jacks, Martin Stuermer, 07 December 2018

There is a lack of consensus on the importance of various drivers of long-run commodity prices. This column analyses a new dataset of prices and production for 15 commodities, including metals, agricultural goods, and soft commodities, between 1870 and 2015. Demand shocks due to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation have driven a substantial amount of variation in commodity price booms. While demand shocks have gained importance over time, commodity supply shocks have become less relevant. 

Giovanni Federico, Antonio Tena-Junguito, 28 July 2018

Global trade data for periods prior to WWII are notoriously incomplete and unreliable. This column describes a new dataset of historical world trade that addresses many of these flaws. The World Trade Historical Database comprises imports and exports for polities beginning in 1800, and also includes international prices for 190 products, freight rates, and exchange rates, where available. Though focused on aggregate trade, the data include information on the composition of trade from numerous sources.

Brandon Dupont, Thomas Weiss, 06 November 2016

The transportation revolution of the 19th century opened up new opportunities for migrant and tourist travel across the North Atlantic. While the impact of this revolution on freight cargoes and, to some extent, mass immigration has been well documented, we know considerably less about non-migrant overseas passenger travel. This column presents data on first class ocean travel fares between the US and the UK from 1826 to 1914, and demonstrates how such data can be gathered from various scattered sources and compiled into a reasonably reliable, representative, and informative long-term time series.

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