Terms of trade during the first globalization: new evidence, new results

David Chilosi, Giovanni Federico, Antonio Tena-Junguito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By analyzing a new dataset of terms of trade covering the whole world during the “first globalization” (1800–1913), this article finds that trends of terms of trade varied significantly, both within the periphery and the core, and were mainly driven by import prices. Volatility declined because price spikes became less frequent and export prices became increasingly stable. We find little evidence of de-industrialization. Consistent with our trends, prices of primary products, similarly to those of manufactures, were falling and so was their volatility. These results sit uneasily with the view that terms of trade played a crucial role in holding back the development of peripheral countries before World War I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-122
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Review of Economic History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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