The Swedish lighthouse system 1650-1890: private versus public provision of public goods

November 2015
European Review of Economic History;Nov2015, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p454
Academic Journal
This paper uses the history of lighthouses in Sweden to discuss the relative roles of public and private productions of public goods in a developing economy. In Sweden, like in England, there were private lighthouses financed by light dues levied on ships calling at particular harbors. However, private provision generally played a marginal role in the expansion of sea safety arrangements. The provision of large-scale public goods in a developing economy such as Sweden relied on public, not private, provision. Merchants were willing to pay taxes in order to contribute to public sector investments in public goods.


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