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Keynes Fund


Summary of Project Plan

Our current Keynes Trust-funded grant has laid the empirical foundations for an analysis of comparative coastal light provisions in the UK and France 1680-1911, which we will effect in the proposed project. The previous grant has successfully delivered on all data-set creation objectives, and produced extra resources, which now puts us in an ideal position to fully analyse the data we have produced and make a very significant contribution to the Cosian debate (which uses lighthouse economics as a litmus test of market failure in the provision of public goods).

This project will also set an ambitious research agenda for years to come with a key impact on multiple fields in economics and economic history (comparative Franco-British development, historical shipping, the role of publicly funded infrastructures in productivity growth, the role of the state in the protection of working conditions) using highly innovative methodologies from computational geospatial modelling and urban planning/economics.

For economists, including two Nobel laureates, lighthouses have become emblematic features of the argument on market failure in the provision of public goods. Despite this, rigorous empirical assessments have been hampered by the limited historical data available. All the datasets for England and Wales and most for France have now been created, and we are applying for follow-up funding to: i) complete the innovative methodological work started in our previous grant to provide the first rigorous quantitative comparison of France and Britain, ii) add comparable data for Scotland and Ireland as during the early nineteenth century more lighthouses were built in these parts of the U.K. than in England and Wales, and iii) publish our findings on the issue of market failure and light provision.



Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor


Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor is Senior Lecturer in eighteenth and nineteenth century British economic and social history at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. His primary research interests are in (i) long-run economic developments in England from the late medieval period down to the late nineteenth centuries with a particular focus on occupational structure; (ii) comparative work in the same field (iii) the development of agrarian capitalism and (iv) the contribution of transport improvements to the Industrial Revolution.


Dr Alexis Litvine


Dr Alexis Litvine is College Lecturer at Pembroke College, Cambridge, Researcher at The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP) and Co-Founder and Manager of Osiris-AI. His research has several distinctive strands; he is cultural economic historian, works on the comparative economic history of France and Europe since 1700 and has a strong interest in Digital Humanities.


Oliver Buxton Dunn


Oliver Buxton Dunn is a historian and a Fellow of Cambridge Digital Humanities and Co-Founder and Manager of Osiris-AI. He specialises in complex/historical data extraction and imaging.


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