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First Cabin Fares from New York to the British Isles, 1826–1914

Research in Economic History

ISBN: 978-1-78743-120-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-119-5

Publication date: 25 July 2017


We present a continuous time series on first cabin passenger fares for ocean travel from New York to the British Isles covering nearly a century of time. We discuss the conceptual and empirical difficulties of constructing such a time series, and examine the reasons for differences between the behavior of advertised fares and those based on passenger revenues. We find that while there are conceptual differences between these two measurements, as well as differences in the average values, the two generally moved in parallel, which means that the advertised fare series can serve as a reasonable proxy for movement of the revenue-based fares. We also find that advertised fares declined over time, roughly paralleling the drop in freight rates for US bulk exports, until around 1890, but thereafter increased while freight rates continued to decline. We propose several hypotheses for this divergent behavior and suggest lines of future research.




We thank Stan Engerman, Peter Solar, Simone Wegge, and participants at the 2012 Economic History Association conference and the 2012 International Cliometrics Society Conference for comments. We also thank C.J. Berzin for providing some of the data on fares for the years before 1850.


Dupont, B., Keeling, D. and Weiss, T. (2017), "First Cabin Fares from New York to the British Isles, 1826–1914", Research in Economic History (Research in Economic History, Vol. 33), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 19-63.



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