Size Mattered? Sweden’s Foreign Trade during the Interwar Years

This project adds to the literature on the conditions of the small countries during the interwar period and the literature on the impact of terms of trade-growth and volatility in the periphery. This literature mainly suggests two diametrically opposing views:

One which claims that the small, trade-dependent countries in the periphery of the core-countries were the biggest losers from the interwar disintegration and the assertive protectionist trade policies of the large European countries. As a result, the small countries experienced worsened terms of trade and had to accept to supply the industrial core-countries with raw materials. The effect was that the economic growth in small countries was hampered. The second view claims contrarily that resource-rich, late industrialists in the periphery advanced when large trade nations in the core declined from the interwar disintegration. This progress was evident in improved terms of trade and an increasing share of manufactures relative to raw materials.

The purpose of this project is to analyze Sweden’s foreign trade 1920-38 in the light of the views presented above. By compiling trade data from Statistics Sweden into a custom database, a high quality database will be constructed, which provides for valid computerization for further analyses of the development of the Swedish terms of trade, the geographical pattern and the commodity structure of the trade as well as the regime changes in regard of the Swedish trade policies.

Participants at Uppsala University:

Peter Hedberg

Selection of publications:



Handelsbankens Forskningsstiftelse

Contact persons:

Peter Hedberg, Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen, Box 513, 751 20 Uppsala, Phone +46 18 471 73 13. Email:


Seminars will take place in Ekonomikum, room K425, 1315-1500

29 August

Margrit Müller, Universität Zürich. "The impact of multinationalization on the firms, their home economy and the host countries. The case of Switzerland during the 20th century"

12 September

Amanda Scardamaglia, Swinburne Law School, Melbourne. Presentation of research project on  "Colonial trademarks".