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Atlantic Trade and the Decline of Conflict in Europe

Reshad Ahsan (), Laura Panza () and Yong Song

No 14206, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: We use over 250 years of conflict and market integration data to provide the first evidence that Atlantic trade contributed to Europe's pacification between 1640 and 1896. While the decline in conflict in Europe during this period has been well documented, the role of Atlantic trade has not been previously explored due to a lack of historical trade data. We overcome this constraint by using wheat prices to calculate time-varying measures of market integration between Europe and the New World, which we use as a proxy for Atlantic trade. To identify the causal effects of Atlantic trade, we exploit exogenous changes in wind patterns and tropical cyclone activity over the Atlantic Ocean to instrument trade. Our results suggest that the growth in Atlantic trade between the mid-17th to the early 19th century lowered the probability of intra-European conflict onset by 14.90 percent. We find empirical support for two channels driving our results: first, Atlantic trade led to an increase in real wages and a reduction in both army and navy sizes in Europe. Second, we show that the possibility of forgone Atlantic trade acted as a deterrent to conflict.

Keywords: Atlantic Trade; conflict; International Relations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 F10 F51 N43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-int
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