NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Welfare Cost of Autarky: Evidence from the Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807-1809

Douglas A. Irwin

NBER Working Paper No. 8692
Issued in December 2001
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ITI

The United States came close to complete autarky in 1808 as a result of a self-imposed embargo on international shipping from December 1807 to March 1809. Monthly prices of exported and imported goods reveal the embargo's striking effect on commodity markets and allow a calculation of its welfare effects. A simple general equilibrium calculation suggests that the embargo cost about 8 percent of America's 1807 GNP, at a time when the trade share was about 13 percent (domestic exports and shipping earnings). The welfare cost was lower than the trade share because the embargo did not completely eliminate trade and because domestic producers successfully shifted production toward previously imported manufactured goods.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8692

Published: Irwin, Douglas A. "The Welfare Cost Of Autrky: Evidence From The Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807-09," Review of International Economics, 2005, v13(4,Sep), 631-645.

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