Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type




First Advisor

Prof. Ann Carlos


The Suez Canal provided steamships, but not sail ships, a shortcut to Asia after it opened in 1869. Although the Canal has long been recognized as an impetus for the use of steamships, little previous research investigates how the Suez Canal affected the diffusion of steamships. This thesis uses data on the tonnage of British sail and steamships which entered ports in the United Kingdom from worldwide locations to examine the effect that the Suez Canal had on steamship use. Difference-in-difference-in-difference modeling separates the increase in steam tonnage caused by the opening of Suez from increases caused by changing cargo and improving steamship technology. Suez made steamships competitive on Asian routes, but these routes constituted a small share of worldwide shipping. The Suez Canal caused roughly a 178 percent increase in steamship use on Asian routes from 1869 until 1874.