This paper reconstructs Revealed Comparative Advantages (RCA) and Economic Complexity Indices (ECI) for a large number of countries in the second half of the 19th century, by using data from the catalogues of five universal exhibitions held in Paris in 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889, and 1900. This allows overcoming the lack of finely product-disaggregated comparative export data, on which such indices are typically constructed. The analysis of exhibition-based RCAs and ECIs reveals structural change and development processes experienced by countries during those decades, pointing out the relevance of countries' productive structures for long-run growth.

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Keywords patterns of specialisation, revealed comparative advantage, economic complexity, universal exhibitions.
JEL Country and Industry Studies of Trade (jel F14), Economic Growth of Open Economies (jel F43), Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative (jel N10), Economic Development: General (jel O10), Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity (jel O47), Comparative Studies of Countries (jel O57)
ISBN 2284-0400
Persistent URL
Series LEM Working Paper Series
Domini, G. (2019). Patterns of specialisation and economic complexity through the lens of universal exhibitions, 1855-1900. LEM Working Paper Series. Retrieved from