World Economics - Insight , Analysis and Data

World Economics - Insight , Analysis and Data
Five Centuries of Energy Prices
Roger Fouquet & Peter Pearson
World Economics, September 2003

Concerns about rising energy prices tend to occur in times of economic expansion, to disappear in times of recession. A recurring fear is that, in the long run, real energy prices will trend upwards. This paper presents evidence from five hundred years of prices of energy sources for the United Kingdom. Over this time period, there is little support for any general trend of rising fuel prices—and some evidence of significant declines. Using this information on prices and consumer expenditure to weight the series, an ‘average price of energy’ series has been created. Reflecting the substitution away from more scarce fuels (driving prices down) and towards more valuable ones (driving prices up), over more than five hundred years—and albeit with significant long-lived fluctuations—there seems little evidence of a rising long-run trend in the real price of ‘energy’.
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