Globalization, welfare, and inequality: Evidence from transoceanic market integration, 1815-1913

David Chilosi, Giovanni Federico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes to the growing historical literature on the 'first globalization' (1815-1913) and income inequality in countries that exported agricultural products. International market integration is expected to increase the demand for exports and therefore their prices. We estimate the effects of increased prices from international market integration on national welfare and income inequality between and within regions in three major exporters of agricultural products - British India, Colonial Indonesia, and the United States - using the prices of eleven key primary commodities. Market integration significantly increased aggregate welfare, but the gains were unevenly distributed. Producing regions gained up to nearly 6% of their GDP. Since the regions that made most welfare gains were also the poorest in their countries, market integration mitigated inequality between regions. Within the southern United States and Java, plantation owners obtained most gains, causing a substantial increase in inequality between persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Global History
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • globalization
  • income inequality
  • market integration
  • welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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