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Productivity Changes In Shipping In The Dutch Republic: The Evidence From Freight Rates, 1550–1800

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Chapter Summary

This study gives strong evidence for the idea that commercial factors heavily influenced costs of sea transport. Estimating the dating and sources of productivity growth in the shipping sector is critical to the understanding of short term Dutch success and long term developments within Europe. The massive character of the freight market had several consequences. The comparison between the series of input and output prices offers help in dealing with three related questions. First, it reduces the need to sail without cargo, that is in ballast. The second concerns the confrontation with labour productivity. The third question is about the reasons for the development of total factor productivity. Without controlling for endogeneity, the strong decline between the 1550s and the 1620s is explained by three factors: the time trend (20-25%), the expansion of the volume of shipping (40-45%) and the increase of voorbijlandvaert (10-15%).

Keywords: 1550s; Dutch; freight market; productivity growth



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