The first version of the RICardo database and RICardo website was officially released in December 2017. Over the last four years, there has been sustained activity around the project, especially from March 2019 when a new grant was awarded by the Fondation Del Ducca covering the period 2019-2022. It provided the financial support needed to allow for the achievement of three objectives discussed by the RICardo committee in May 2017:
- update the database with new primary sources;
- add a political dimension to trade data;
- improve the website with new exploratory analysis features.
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In September 2020, Emilien Ruiz (Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po) and the Sciences Po médialab organized a web seminar that aimed to discuss un tournant numérique pour l’histoire économique over the last twenty years by gathering two quantitative historical databases projects, RICardo and DFIH. This allowed us to highlight the changes that have occurred in the RICardo project since its beginning in 2004. Indeed, RICardo experienced a digital turn in 2013 when Paul joined the team. This had an impact on the original purpose of the project: to build a historical bilateral trade database in order to analyze the causes of trade globalization; and on the method developed to exploit data: the gravity model. The use of digital methods led us to focus on the complexity of the representation of trade globalization in the 19th and 20th centuries with the aim of developing a new vision of this still insufficiently explored phenomenon.
In May 2020, the first colloquium of the Association francophone des humanités numériques, Humanistica2020, was organized in Bordeaux (it was eventually canceled due to the Covid measures). This new association, created in 2014, invites researchers in social sciences to question their uses of digital technologies, an issue especially relevant to us. In fact, in our quest for an answer to our two main problematics – “how can the RICardo database be used to represent and analyze the network of world trade over the 19th – mid-20th centuries?” and “what are and how many are the trading entities of the world?” – the use of digital methods is of particular importance. Our communication Pourquoi et comment géolocaliser le commerce mondial des XIXe-miXXe siècles ? focused on our method to geo localize the RICardo trading entities and on the problems raised by the historical perspective.
In November 2019, the RICardo dataset was used as a case study by the team of the gFlowiz project at the international conference Spatial Analysis and GEOmatics in Clermont Ferrand. gFlowiz focuses on the design of geo visualization application dedicated to flow or traffic data analysis. The team has developed a new cartographic web application, Arabesque, that was tested with a panel of RICardo trade flows. This experiment allowed us to better grasp the difficulties raised by the analysis and the representation of the RICardo complex matrix.
The RICardo dataset has also been used to write a tutorial for the arabesque software.
In June 2019, we were invited at the worshop “Y a-t-il un tournant spatial en histoire en histoire économique” organized by the Center for History and Economics in Paris. We spoke about the heterogeneity of the trading entities listed in the RICardo dataset. This problem actually raised the question to know what is a trading entity and what is a country. Here is a brief summary of our presentation.
1. The heterogeneity of the RICardo trade database (1800-1938) as compared with the matrix of the IMF trade database (since 1950)
2. The variety of types of trading entities in the RICardo database
3. How many RICentities by type over time?
4. How many reporting and partner RICentities of the ‘country’ type over time?
In October 2018, Astrid Kander invited us to present at the Lund seminar of the Department of Economic History the first results of our exploration of the world trade web using the RICardo database. We aimed to analyze the geographical distribution of world trade in a historical perspective and were confronted with the extreme complexity of the RICardo trade matrix. Here is the working paper that was sent to the seminar participants.
Our slides for the communication:
RICardo World Trade Web, 1834-1938
RICardo is a project initiated at the beginning of the 21th century with the aim of constructing a database of bilateral trade covering all of the world’s countries over the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Nearly fifteen years have passed before the first results of our work could be published. The final RICardo project includes a database (~300,000 data; 12.2017 version) and a website to explore the data. Contrary to the usual procedure, we did not try to publish a research paper before making our work available to the public. Given the time we have spent on this project, it was most important for us to publish our work as both a dataset and an exploration tool. We can now turn to the analytical part of the undertaking.
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The first RICardo workshop was organized in Paris on 12 May 2017 to celebrate the official launching of the RICardo website on the bicentenary of David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. It gathered the members of the newly created RICardo committee to discuss a number of methodological questions pertaining to historical trade statistics and their exploitation with digital technology. This meeting was an opportunity to exchange views on challenging questions that each trade database builder has to face and answer. A list of discussion points was submitted to the committee. The outcome of our discussions is intended to help both the inexpert and the scholar user to better know and utilize trade data and the RICardo website. Continuer la lecture
RICardo (Research on International Commerce) est un projet dédié au commerce entre nations sur une période allant des débuts de la Révolution industrielle à la veille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Il allie une base historique de données commerciales couvrant tous les pays du monde à un site web qui propose une exploration de l’histoire du commerce international à partir de visualisations (http://ricardo.medialab.sciences-po.fr/#/). Le projet RICardo s’adresse aux chercheurs, enseignants et étudiants.