The price and welfare consequences of the British Sugar Act of 1846

Sångsalen Session 1: The political economy of protection organized by Christopher Absell


Christopher Absell


Research on trade liberalisation frequently overlooks the effects on third party welfare. This paper studies an historically tragic third-party consequence of a special case of tariff reform: the British Sugar Act of 1846. Using a new database of monthly observations of prices and import volumes for the period 1840-53, this paper estimates the price and welfare effects of the passage of the Sugar Act for consumers and colonial and noncolonial producers. Considerable consumption gains for British consumers and a reduced deadweight loss were derived from the intensification of trade with the slave-economies.


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