A Short-Lived Backlash: The political economy of wheat protection in Europe in the first half of the 19th century
Title: A Short-Lived Backlash: The political economy of wheat protection in Europe in the first half of the 19th century
Author: FEDERICO, Giovanni
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2009/61
In the first half of the 19th century, the wheat trade policy in Western European countries followed a major political cycle, featuring a massive increase in protection in the late 1810s and early 1820s, and a slow process of liberalisation from the end of that decade until the 1850s. This paper aims at understanding the causes of this cycle in seven wheat-importing countries (the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Piedmont). It discusses several causes, within the framework of a simple model of political economy. Ideas and political considerations may have played a role, but, at the end of the day, the single most important cause were changes in the expected income of the producers, mainly reflecting movements in wheat prices.
Subject: Political economy; trade policy; wheat; Europe early 19th century
Type of Access: openAccess