Speed under Sail, 1750–1830
Morgan Kelly and
Cormac Ó Gráda ()
No 201710, Working Papers from School of Economics, University College Dublin
We measure technological progress in oceanic shipping directly by using a large database of daily log entries from ships of the British and Dutch East India Companies and Navies to estimate daily sailing speed in different wind conditions from 1750 to 1850. Against the consensus among economic (but not maritime) historians that the technology of sailing shipswas static during this time, we find that average sailing speeds of British ships in moderate to strong winds rose by nearly a third. Driving this steady progress seems to be continuous evolution of sails and rigging, and improved hulls that allowed a greater area of sail to be set safely in a given wind. By contrast, looking at every voyage between the Netherlands and East Indies undertaken by the Dutch East India Company from 1595 to 1795, we find that journey time fell only by 10 per cent, with no improvement in the heavy mortality, averaging six per cent per voyage, of those aboard.
Keywords: Technological progress; Shipping (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gro and nep-his
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
http://hdl.handle.net/10197/8727 First version, 2017 (application/pdf)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201710
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in Working Papers from School of Economics, University College Dublin Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Nicolas Clifton ().