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On the origins of border effects: insights from the Habsburg Empire

Schulze, Max-Stephan and Wolf, Nikolaus (2009) On the origins of border effects: insights from the Habsburg Empire. Journal of Economic Geography, 9 (1). pp. 117-136. ISSN 1468-2702

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Identification Number: 10.1093/jeg/lbn040


What are the origins of border effects on trade and why do borders continue to matter in periods of increasing economic integration? We explore the hypothesis that border effects emerged as a result of asymmetric economic integration in the unique historical setting of the multi-national Habsburg Empire prior to the First World War. While markets tended to integrate mainly due to improved infrastructure, ethno-linguistic networks had persistent trade diverting effects. We find that the political borders which separated the empire's successor states after the First World War became visible in the economy from the mid-1880s onwards, already 25–30 years before the First World War. This effect of a ‘border before a border’ cannot be explained by factors such as administrative barriers, physical geography, changes in infrastructure or patterns of integration with neighbouring regions outside of the Habsburg customs and monetary union. However, controlling for the changing ethno-linguistic composition of the population across the regional capital cities of the empire does explain most of the estimated border effects.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: F - International Economics > F1 - Trade > F15 - Economic Integration
N - Economic History > N1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations > N13 - Europe: Pre-1913
Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology > Z13 - Social Norms and Social Capital; Social Networks
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2011 15:50
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:57

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