Norrlands ekonomi i stöpsleven : ekonomisk expansion, stapelvaruproduktion och maritima näringar 1760-1812

Sammanfattning: This dissertation investigates whether northern Sweden's forest-based staple production and maritime activities were increased and altered in any significant ways prior to the expansion which began just before the middle of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, it studies whether certain changes contributed to thecreation of preconditions for the named expansion. Previous research into Norrland's economic history has mainly concentrated on the period after the 1840s, and the preceding century has been regarded as rather static.The author suggests that Norrland's economy was in fact dynamic during the study period. The total population expanded by over 60 per cent and the degree of social differentitation within the rural population also increased. In addition agriculture was transformed, new land was cleared for cultivation and technical improvements were made. Against this backcloth the production of staples and the maritime activities are investigated. Within these branches of the economy, growth was strong: The annual output of tar was quadrupled, bar iron doubled, sawn timber increased by 50 per cent as did the volume of outgoing shipping, the merchant fleet doubled in size and shipbuilding more than trebled. The growth was greatest during the 1780s and 1790s.In certain fields this strong quantitative expansion involved a number of qualitiative innovations. Among the staples, sawn timber underwent clear improvements in quality when fine-bladed saws replaced the coarse-bladed mills for export production. This branch aslo changed in terms of its capital requirements, ownership structure, raw material supply and degree of centralization. Staple production formed the basis for the various maritime activities. Almost all shipping to and from Norrland was related to the staples, which provided freights for the region's merchant vessels and supplied the shipyards with the necessary building materials. The towns, however, declined in terms of domestic shipping. This was a consequence of the towns losing their role as transit ports for the shipment of timber, for the fine-bladed sawmills usually floated their products downstream to the river mouths were they had established loading places of their own.This study shows that access to the forest largely determined the location of economic activities in Norrland. In turn, the regional distribution of staple production affected the location of other activities. Within staple production and maritime activities external investments, especially by Stockholm's merchant capitalists, also left their clear imprint on Norrland’s economy.The conclucsion is that, seen in a wider economic perspective, Norrland played the part of a peripheral supplier of staples. Despite regional variations the basic features were the same throughout. Within this framework changes took place which were reflected in proto-industrial features, indirect effects of the staple production and of initial liberal tendencies. The changes were only just beginning, but Norrland's economy was undoubtedly in the melting-pot.