No experiments, monumental disasters: Why it took a thousand years to develop a specialized fishing industry in Iceland

Thráinn Eggertsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Iceland has been renowned for its rich fisheries since the Middle Ages, attracting fishing fleets from various European countries. Yet the institutions of premodern Iceland permitted ocean fishing only as a part-time activity for farmers and trapped the country in abject poverty until late in the 19th century. Landed interests, who feared competition in the labour market, tied labor to the land. The domestic constraint, which would not have sufficed in an open economy, was complemented by the Danish colonial policy of isolation and monopoly trade. A vigorous fishing industry emerged with the introduction of free trade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996

Other keywords

  • Economic development
  • Economic history
  • Fisheries
  • Iceland
  • Property rights

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