Proposal preview

Exploring the institutional turn in in transport and communication history. Comparative aspects of the regulated economy of transport, communication, and information technology, 1850-2000

Traditionally, mainstream transport history has focused on empirical and macro economic oriented approaches or individual cases on the micro level. The institutional turn in transport history during the last decade, has made important contributions pinpointing the new role of the nation state, both as a regulator, investor and owner in the transport and communication industries in various countries. The rapid and accelerating development of transport and communication technologies has been an integrated part, as well as an important economic driving force both in the first, second, and third industrial revolutions. However, the role of the state has since then been challenged, changed and restored or abandoned. Market solutions – national or global – currently seems to dominate the regulatory settings in central transport and communication industries. Recently, we can also see signs of new nationalization processes as a reaction to the deregulation processes. How has the role of the national state as a regulatory force changed seen from a comparative perspective?
Here we suggest that an exploratory comparative institutional approach is used to open up a comparative discussion of various institutional patterns regarding the development and change of regional, national and international institutional settings. Central issues concern the comparative aspects on a global scale of the relation between the various types of state action. In this context, the various roles of the state in terms of ownership, subsidies, contractual arrangements, etc., are of particular interest as well as institutional settings, the technology, and the market forces behind the development of several network industries within the transport and communication sector in various countries. Network industries of special interest are the telephone industry, civil aviation, railway, telegraph, postal services, and urban transport.
The underlying purpose of the theme is to bring together both experienced scholars and young doctoral students in a session combining both empirical research and theoretical approaches in transport and communications. We also know that there are a number of research projects going on in these respects, and would like to create a meeting among the leading researchers. By also inviting a number of young scholars, we like to believe that the outcome of the theme may contribute to a new understanding of both contemporary and historical processes in the field.

Organizer(s)

  • Lena Andersson-Skog Umeå University,Sweden lena.andersson-skog@ekhist.umu.se Sweden
  • Jan Ottosson Uppsala University, Sweden jan.ottosson@ekhist.uu.se Sweden

Session members

  • ,
  • Javier Vidal Olivares, University of Alicante
  • Florian Ploeckl, University of Adelaide
  • Joseph Amankwah-Amoah, University of Kent
  • Lena Andersson-Skog, Umeå University
  • Dan Bogart, UC Irvine
  • Humberto Laudares, The Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Björn Hasselgren, Uppsala University
  • Latika Chaudhary Hartmann, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Pedro Pablo Ortúñez-Goicolea, Universidad de Valladolid
  • Josef Taalbi, Lund University
  • Hana Nielsen, Lund University
  • Price Fishback, University of Arizona
  • Hoa Nguyen, Allegheny College
  • Paul Rhode, University of Michigan
  • Alexandra Lopez Cermeno, Lund University
  • Cesar Hidalgo , MIT
  • Kerstin Enflo , Lund University
  • Cristian Jara-Figueroa, MIT
  • Jan Ottosson, Uppsala University

Discussant(s)

  • TBA TBA
  • Colleen Dunlavy University of Wisconsin, Madison cdunlavy@wisc.edu

This panel has Call for Papers open.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the panel organizer(s) to submit a proposal.

  • Lena Andersson-Skog, Umeå University,Sweden, lena.andersson-skog@ekhist.umu.se, Sweden
  • Jan Ottosson, Uppsala University, Sweden, jan.ottosson@ekhist.uu.se, Sweden

Papers

Panel abstract

1st half

2018 WEHC Regional Postal Efficiency Ploeckl Long Abstract

Florian Ploeckl

National public monopolies are usually charged with delivering the same service everywhere with the same conditions. This also held for the Postal services of the 19th century, the historical forerunner of such a national public service, when they spread out extensively under the idea of “Universal Access”. Nevertheless, different regions received different levels of service provision and as Ploeckl (2016) demonstrates for the case of the German Imperial Reichspost the productive efficiency of the service differed as well. This paper identifies the reasons why a public agency operated differently across regions and whether these underlying causes were the result of exogenous factors, for example urbanization, geography or literacy, or endogenous reasons, for example regional political capture.

National public monopolies are usually charged with delivering the same service everywhere with the same conditions. This also held for the Postal services of the 19th century, the historical forerunner of such a national public service, when they spread out extensively under the idea of “Universal Access”. Nevertheless, different regions received different levels of service provision and as Ploeckl (2016) demonstrates for the case of the German Imperial Reichspost the productive efficiency of the service differed as well. This paper identifies the reasons why a public agency operated differently across regions and whether these underlying causes were the result of exogenous factors, for example urbanization, geography or literacy, or endogenous reasons, for example regional political capture.

The Reluctant Infrastructure Manager 180109Hasselgren

Björn Hasselgren

Governments have a choice whether to intervene in the transport infrastructure sector to manage, finance and organize and sometimes own the assets of the sector, or to rely on markets and private sector actors for the provision of these systems. From the 1840s, railroads and a more modern road system generally developed based on a mix of government and private/local government initiatives. In many countries steps towards centralization were taken to coordinate railroads and roads during WW 1. In Sweden, which is at the core of the empirical example in this paper the government coordination primarily took place in the 1930-40s, as the private- and local government-owned railroads and rural public roads, a majority of the total system, were taken over (nationalized) by the State. In this paper I facilitate an understanding and explanation of the successive steps that led to the decision to nationalize railroads and roads.

Governments have a choice whether to intervene in the transport infrastructure sector to manage, finance and organize and sometimes own the assets of the sector, or to rely on markets and private sector actors for the provision of these systems. From the 1840s, railroads and a more modern road system generally developed based on a mix of government and private/local government initiatives. In many countries steps towards centralization were taken to coordinate railroads and roads during WW 1. In Sweden, which is at the core of the empirical example in this paper the government coordination primarily took place in the 1930-40s, as the private- and local government-owned railroads and rural public roads, a majority of the total system, were taken over (nationalized) by the State. In this paper I facilitate an understanding and explanation of the successive steps that led to the decision to nationalize railroads and roads.

Proposal-WEHC Boston 2018 FinalBogartChaudhary

Dan Bogart and Latika Chaudhary Hartmann

Investor Returns to Indian Railway Companies in the Age of High Imperialism We study the stock market performance of Indian railway on the London Stock Exchange using monthly stock price data from 1869 to 1910. We first construct the returns for the 8 major railway companies operating in India and an aggregate Indian railways index drawing on work by Grossman (2017). We then compare the Indian railway index to railways in developing countries and to more developed countries of the 19th century such as Britain. Finally, we conduct an event study analysis of individual company stock prices before-after macroeconomic shocks and key announcements signalling a change in policy. We provide a comparative perspective on the financial performance of British companies operating in a colonial state under a public-private regulatory structure. The paper will also shed light on whether and how information and news from India affected returns in London.

Investor Returns to Indian Railway Companies in the Age of High Imperialism We study the stock market performance of Indian railway on the London Stock Exchange using monthly stock price data from 1869 to 1910. We first construct the returns for the 8 major railway companies operating in India and an aggregate Indian railways index drawing on work by Grossman (2017). We then compare the Indian railway index to railways in developing countries and to more developed countries of the 19th century such as Britain. Finally, we conduct an event study analysis of individual company stock prices before-after macroeconomic shocks and key announcements signalling a change in policy. We provide a comparative perspective on the financial performance of British companies operating in a colonial state under a public-private regulatory structure. The paper will also shed light on whether and how information and news from India affected returns in London.

From Telegraphs to Space

Humberto Laudares

In this article, I exploit a source of quasi-random variation in observed infrastructure and develop a historical route opened by the Rondon Com- mission (1915-1917) as an instrumental variable strategy to investigate the impact of a national highway on the development of the Amazon region. Furthermore, I also explore potential transmission mechanisms, such as deforestation. My empirical tests rely on three data sources: night-time satellite data, census micro-data and deforestation satellite data. Using night-time satellite data, I find that for each kilometer's distance away from highway, the income of a pixel (0.86km2) captured by the intensity of night-time light decreases by 0.10%.

In this article, I exploit a source of quasi-random variation in observed infrastructure and develop a historical route opened by the Rondon Com- mission (1915-1917) as an instrumental variable strategy to investigate the impact of a national highway on the development of the Amazon region. Furthermore, I also explore potential transmission mechanisms, such as deforestation. My empirical tests rely on three data sources: night-time satellite data, census micro-data and deforestation satellite data. Using night-time satellite data, I find that for each kilometer's distance away from highway, the income of a pixel (0.86km2) captured by the intensity of night-time light decreases by 0.10%.

Regulating in times of war_Ortunez

Pedro Pablo Ortúñez-Goicolea

This paper aim to study what answers the Spanish State gave to the problems caused by the First World War in the Spanish railway system. The Spanish rail system was based on concessions that the State had given to private companies. This system was inaugurated in 1855 and, among other regulations, provided that the fares were controlled by the State: there were maximum fares that could not be raised without authorization from the Government. The First World War was a blow to this system of concessions. The Spanish State changed from regulator to owner, and the First World War was the key in this process. The Spanish Government acted late and badly, before the effects that the War was causing. This was so because of the weakness of liberal institutions in Spain in the first third of the 20th century.

This paper aim to study what answers the Spanish State gave to the problems caused by the First World War in the Spanish railway system. The Spanish rail system was based on concessions that the State had given to private companies. This system was inaugurated in 1855 and, among other regulations, provided that the fares were controlled by the State: there were maximum fares that could not be raised without authorization from the Government. The First World War was a blow to this system of concessions. The Spanish State changed from regulator to owner, and the First World War was the key in this process. The Spanish Government acted late and badly, before the effects that the War was causing. This was so because of the weakness of liberal institutions in Spain in the first third of the 20th century.

EV_Project overviewTaalbi Nielsen

Josef Taalbi, Hana Nielsen

More than 15% of all global carbon emissions come from the transport sector, not far behind the industry sector with its 20% share. But while the industry sector went through some dynamic changes with substantial efficiency improvements, the transport sector remains, by large, locked-in in fossil technology. In 1900, 38% of the US automobiles were powered by electricity, while 40% ran on steam. Gasoline driven vehicles accounted for the smallest share of the total, some 22%. This paper provides empirical evidence on the race between the three major types of personal vehicles – steam, gasoline and electric vehicles. The research aims to compare all vehicle types available in the US market between 1890 and 1920 against a large number of general as well as region-specific characteristics such as the availability of infrastructures and its development (electrification), complementarities (oil extraction), fuel prices and potential buyer’s characteristics.

More than 15% of all global carbon emissions come from the transport sector, not far behind the industry sector with its 20% share. But while the industry sector went through some dynamic changes with substantial efficiency improvements, the transport sector remains, by large, locked-in in fossil technology. In 1900, 38% of the US automobiles were powered by electricity, while 40% ran on steam. Gasoline driven vehicles accounted for the smallest share of the total, some 22%. This paper provides empirical evidence on the race between the three major types of personal vehicles – steam, gasoline and electric vehicles. The research aims to compare all vehicle types available in the US market between 1890 and 1920 against a large number of general as well as region-specific characteristics such as the availability of infrastructures and its development (electrification), complementarities (oil extraction), fuel prices and potential buyer’s characteristics.

WEHC 18 AbstractNguyen

Price Fishback, Hoa Nguyen, Paul Rhode

Automobiles have played an important role in socioeconomic development through increasing the mobility and networks of individuals and businesses. Studying the diffusion of automobiles helps us understand better the determinants of development and design efficient policies that encourage further progress. It is commonly believed that the gasoline engine, pneumatic tire innovations, and falling car prices led to the diffusion of automobiles. But that is only part of the story. This paper aims to expand this story about automobile diffusion and its complement - road systems in the U.S. during the Great Depression. After compiling a new panel data set on car registrations and highway mileage at county level in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from 1928 to 1940, we constructed an instrumental variable using the Pershing military map to examine the relationship between highway mileage and automobile adoption in the U.S.

Automobiles have played an important role in socioeconomic development through increasing the mobility and networks of individuals and businesses. Studying the diffusion of automobiles helps us understand better the determinants of development and design efficient policies that encourage further progress. It is commonly believed that the gasoline engine, pneumatic tire innovations, and falling car prices led to the diffusion of automobiles. But that is only part of the story. This paper aims to expand this story about automobile diffusion and its complement - road systems in the U.S. during the Great Depression. After compiling a new panel data set on car registrations and highway mileage at county level in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from 1928 to 1940, we constructed an instrumental variable using the Pershing military map to examine the relationship between highway mileage and automobile adoption in the U.S.

Connectivity-IndustriesCristian

C. Jara-Figueroa, A. L. Cermeno, C. Hidalgo, and K. Enflo

Research has shown that railroad connectivity is an important motor of economic growth, since it promotes trade, increases the value of land, shifts labor demands, and increases urban population. In particular, Berger and Enflo show that Swedish towns that gained access to the railroad network experienced substantial relative increases in population and manufacturing employment shares. The role of transportation technologies for industrial diversication, however, remains largely unexplored. We use historical data on the industrial structures of 76 Swedish towns1 from 1865 to 1900 to show that the expansion of the railroad network led connected towns to diversify into sectors where their railroadneighbors had specialized before. Our findings suggest that transportation technologies can provide access to the necessary knowledge to adopt new industries.

Research has shown that railroad connectivity is an important motor of economic growth, since it promotes trade, increases the value of land, shifts labor demands, and increases urban population. In particular, Berger and Enflo show that Swedish towns that gained access to the railroad network experienced substantial relative increases in population and manufacturing employment shares. The role of transportation technologies for industrial diversication, however, remains largely unexplored. We use historical data on the industrial structures of 76 Swedish towns1 from 1865 to 1900 to show that the expansion of the railroad network led connected towns to diversify into sectors where their railroadneighbors had specialized before. Our findings suggest that transportation technologies can provide access to the necessary knowledge to adopt new industries.

Abstract Boston 2018

Lena Andersson-Skog, Jan Ottosson

In this paper we will address the question how we understand the historical development of regulation and which conditions create the development of governance and how do such orders change. We will illuminate our argument by studying why the Swedish state choose to regulate, intervene, and subsidize network industries in different ways. By doing so, it will be possible to further interpret the windows of opportunity and the role of interest groups vs. politicians in these respects. By using the example of early civil aviation and railways during Swedish interwar period, we will argue that the various patterns of state involvement neither can be considered only as a case of market failure, nor only as an example of interest groups actions since the initial position of state involvement was not a clear-cut matter, with possible consequences for mobility.

In this paper we will address the question how we understand the historical development of regulation and which conditions create the development of governance and how do such orders change. We will illuminate our argument by studying why the Swedish state choose to regulate, intervene, and subsidize network industries in different ways. By doing so, it will be possible to further interpret the windows of opportunity and the role of interest groups vs. politicians in these respects. By using the example of early civil aviation and railways during Swedish interwar period, we will argue that the various patterns of state involvement neither can be considered only as a case of market failure, nor only as an example of interest groups actions since the initial position of state involvement was not a clear-cut matter, with possible consequences for mobility.

2nd half