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Department of Economic History, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg Göteborg Papers in Economic History

No 11:
From extreme luxury to everyday commodity Sugar in Sweden, 17th to 20th centuries

Klas Rönnbäck ()

Abstract: This paper will focus upon the Swedish consumption of sugar, a product that illustrates the shift from being a luxury to being a mass-consumed commodity. Very little attention has been paid to the commodity of sugar by Swedish scholars, at least concerning the period prior to the introduction of the sugar beet in the late 19th century. The paper will try to answer three questions: - When did sugar experience a shift from luxury to everyday commodity? - What factors are important to explain the shift? - What impacts did the increasing sugar consumption have, at home and abroad? Regarding the last question, the paper most importantly presents a novel calculation of how large the ‘ghost acreage’ and slave labour population the Swedish consumption during the early modern era required.

Keywords: Economic History; Price History; Consumption; Sugar; Sweden; Ghost acreage; Slavery; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: N33; N36; N93; (follow links to similar papers)

354 pages, November 12, 2007, Revised January 29, 2008

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