CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale


TRADHIST allows analyzing trade globalization in a long-term historical perspective. It was notably used to estimate the evolution of trade costs over two centuries (Fouquin and Hugot, 2016).

TRADHIST comprises five types of variables:

  1. bilateral annual nominal trade flows;
  2. country-level aggregate nominal imports and exports;
  3. nominal GDP;
  4. exchange rate; and
  5. bilateral features known to favor or hamper trade, including geographical distance, common borders, colonial and linguistic links, and bilateral tariffs.
TRADHIST includes about 1.9 million bilateral trade flows, 42,000 observations on total imports and exports, and 14,000 observations for GDP and exchange rates, for a 188-year period spanning 1827–2014.

Please read the CEPII working paper. If you don't find the answer to your question, please contact us.

Reference document to cite: Fouquin, M. and Hugot, J. (2016) Two Centuries of Bilateral Trade and Gravity Data: 1827-2014. CEPII Working Paper, N°2016-14.

Person in charge & contact: Jules Hugot, jules.hugotgmail.com

Licence: Etalab 2.0


Last version
Original data set, used in Fouquin and Hugot (2016)
Excel versions [Update: Nov. 10, 2016 - Documentation here]


The TRADHIST data set was built to explore the two modern waves of globalization: the First Globalization of the nineteenth century and the post-World War II Second Globalization.

The approach to collecting data was sytematic, to the exception of tariffs. For each variable, we merge the pre-existing secondary sources with additional data directly extracted from primary sources, including government publications, books, and academic articles. In the end, TRADHIST includes more than 1.9 million bilateral trade observations for the 188 years from 1827 to 2014. The data also includes about 42,000 observations on total trade (i.e., total country-level imports and exports), and about 14,000 observations on GDP and exchange rates. The country pairs for which we collected bilateral trade are also associated with the great-circle distance and the shortest maritime distance between them, as well as a set of dummy variables reflecting colonial and linguistic links. Nominal values were all converted to the British pound sterling in order to make data internationally comparable.

TRADHIST's most significant contribution is to expand the available bilateral trade data, in terms of both temporal and geographical coverage. Of the 1.9 million bilateral trade observations, more than 1.6 million are for 1948–2014. And 97% of these observations are from the Direction of Trade Statistics (International Monetary Fund, 2002 and 2015). TRADHIST's contribution thus concentrates on the period prior to 1948, for which TRADHIST provides about 185,000 new observations, out of the 240,000 observations included in the dataset. For this period, TRADHIST more than quadrupled the amount of data available. The structure of the data is bilateral: each observation pertains to a specific trade flow in a given year. The resulting panel is highly unbalanced, as the number of available bilateral trade flows dramatically increases over time.