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Staten som marknadens salt: en studie i institutionsbildning, kollektivt handlande och tidig välfärdspolitik på en strategisk varumarknad i övergången mellan merkantilism och liberalism 1720-1862
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
1997 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The State as the salt of the market : A study of institutional formation, collective action and pre-industrial welfare policy on a strategic commodity market in the transition from mercantilism to liberalism 1720-1862. (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation studies public institutional arrangements on the Swedish salt market 1720-1862. Crucial issues are how an why these arrangements emerged and were changed as well as they were used. The arrangements were erected in order to realize economic and social goals. In this respect, the policy persued by the Swedish government differed from those of most other governments, where policies concerning salt primarily meant tax policies. Government policies in Sweden were firstly external and had a long-term orientation. The aim was to import as much salt as possible to Sweden. The government also pursued a short-term policy in order to cope with short-term shorages. Overall, these policies were successful. Contrary to what has been stated in earlier Swedish research, the protectionist shipping policies did not lead to shortages of salt and high saltprices. Instead, the Swedish shipping and freight manufacture was stimulated, and Sweden became independent of foreign merchant fleets. The mercantilist aim of building a large merchant fleet, independent of potential enemy nations, was achieved without any negative effects on prices or supply on the Swedish salt market.

Shortages of salt were not caused by a generally low yearly supply of salt. On the contrary, Sweden consistently had a surplus of salt and re-exported every year salt to other countries. The shortages of salt was rather regional and temporary, due to unexpected shocks on the supply side (wars, buccaneering, shipwrecks, persistent head winds, crises of production) and on the demand side (abundant fishing, cattle diseases and forced slaughter etc.). Costly and slow transports and communication meant that unexpected shortages could not be solved through trade. To solve these problems different institutional arrangements were created. These arrangements emerged in an evolutionary process of institutional change characterized by significant random elements. Severe shortages caused large changes in relative prices which acted as triggering factors in the process of institutional formation.

Three more elaborated institutional arrangements having welfare purpuses were established, but disappeared in a rather short time. In 1774 a system of State Salt Stores were established in all staple towns. This arrangement proved to be very efficient as an insurance system, and the Salt Stores were frequently used to avert temporary shortages until new cargos of salt had arrived. The active state policy was a prerequisite for the markets to function satisfactory under mercantilism. But public stockpiling came to an end because the need for this insurance services diminished. But new technologies in saltproduction and shipping, increases in security and improved communications, a more efficiently-functioning market structure caused a significant long run decline i saltprices in relation to other prices and wages. Consequently, the need for public arrangements on the saltmarket decreased.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International , 1997. , 359 p.
Stockholm Studies in Economic History, ISSN 0346-8305 ; 24
Keyword [en]
collective action, evolutionary economics, government, history, institututional change, interest groups, mercantilism, pre-industrial welfare policies, salt, state, storage
National Category
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-48410ISBN: 91-22-01760-7OAI: diva2:375664
Public defence
1997-06-04, Hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-12-13 Created: 2010-12-08 Last updated: 2012-09-20Bibliographically approved

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