The way we treat quantity units (as of march 2021)

The retranscribed variable is “quantity_unit” (1,564 different values).

Orthographic Normalization

The file “classification_quantityunit_orthographic.csv” establishes a correspondance between the variable “quantity_unit” and the variable “quantity_unit_orthographic” (701 values). 235,000 observations have “livres” in “quantity_unit_ortho” and 164,000 have “unité manquante” (out of 555,000).


The file “classification_quantityunit_simplification.csv” establishes a correspondance between the variable “quantity_unit_orthographic” and “quantity_unit_simplification” & “conv_orthographic_to_simplification”.
“quantity_unit_simplification” is the name of the simplified quantity unit.
“conv_orthographic_to_simplification” is the conversion factor between quantity_unit_orthographic and quantity_unit_simplification.
E.g. for “douzaine”, these are «nombre» and “12”

First pass for unambiguous “classification_quantityunit_metric1”

The file “classification_quantityunit_metric1” establishes a link between “quantity_unit_simplification” and “quantity_unit_metric” + “conv_simplification_to_metric” when possible directly.
If not, we flag “needs_more_details” which indicate that we cannot know the metric equivalent without using more variables.

 Simplification and Multi-key conversion

The file “classification_quantityunit_metric2” establishes a correspondance between :
quantity_unit_simplification + product_simplification + product_revolutionempire + exportsimports + customs_region + partner_grouping with “quantity_unit_metric” + “conv_simplification_to_metric”
In the end, 277,000 trade flows are expressed in kilograms, 164,000 have no quantity unit, 70,000 are expressed in numbers, 13,000 in liters, 10,000 in centimeters, 3000 in containers and 2,200 in sheets. 15,000 have not “quantity_metric” esquivalent.

Léon Guillot

Bienvenue à Léon Guillot, qui vient faire un Master que Guillaume Daudin va encadrer.

“Actuellement étudiant dans le Master d’Analyse Economique Quantitative, à l’Université Paris-Dauphine, au sein de la filière “Politique publique”, je prépare un mémoire sur l’existence d’un phénomène de maladie hollandaise dans l’économie française du XVIIIe siècle, du fait de l’importance du commerce avec les Antilles.

Passionné d’histoire économique, j’avais choisi une licence d’économie-histoire à l’université Paris-1, avant de basculer sur l’apprentissage de techniques quantitatives dans ce master. La base de données TOFLIT représente pour moi une excellente opportunité en terme de travail empirique quantitatif.
Par ce travail, j’espère mieux comprendre un des aspects de la trajectoire économique de la France moderne, ayant pu influer sur sa non-Révolution Industrielle.
Par ailleurs, je désire me former à l’analyse générale des phénomènes de maladie hollandaise.”

Présentation “Haut de gamme, excédent commercial et dynamique des exportations dans la France Pré-Industrielle”

Loïc Charles et Guillaume Daudin ont présenté un travail sur “Haut de gamme, excédent commercial et dynamique des exportationsdans la France pré-Industrielle” au colloque “Vers le haut de gamme Made in France” le 22 novembre 2019.


  • Qu’avons-nous fait ?
    • Une base riche… et problématique
    • Ce qu’on sait du rôle du luxe dans la politique économique
    • Comment isoler le luxe dans les flux commerciaux au XVIIIe siècle?
    • Le rôle du luxe dans les exportations françaises
  • Alors ?
    • Il est possible de tirer des choses des données de la Balance du Commerce
    • La recherche de la qualité était à la base de la politique économique française
    • Le commerce de soierie (et donc haut de gamme) jouait un rôle croissant dans l’excédent commercial français – en partie à cause de la perte des marchés d’Outre-Mers
    • Par contre, il n’est pas facile d’établir un rôle spécifique pour la qualité relative dans le travail d’un matériau donné, à part le déclin (mais à partir d’un niveau bas) dans les exportations nationales
    • Et il faudrait regarder d’autres produits :  bonneterie, gants, chapeaux, vins…



Stephen Jackson

We welcome Stephen Jackson in the team. He will stay for June and July 2019, and will work in the beginning on a new 200 category classification of merchandises based on the documents from the Revolution and the Empire. A short self-presentation follows.

After spending three years at the University of Warwick studying economics at undergraduate level, I decided to move back to France and follow up my bachelor’s degree with a master’s in development economics at Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris I). 

The research-oriented nature of postgraduate study makes experiences in the field of academia all the more valuable. Joining the project as an intern is an opportunity to further explore an area of economics that has always interested me while experiencing first-hand what it takes to be engaged in research at the forefront of the discipline. 

I’ll be joining the TOFLIT18 project for two months over the summer of 2019. My tasks as part of the team include elaborating a new classification of products based on earlier simplification work as well as harmonisation of data in the early years of Revolutionary France to address potential shifts in classification methodology and reporting.

Although economic history has always featured prominently in my choice of courses at university, this internship also represents a step into the unknown. Working with such a large collection of data and facing the challenges tied to historical records is something new and fascinating for me. In my short time on board, I hope I can contribute to the large body of work that has been carried out so far and pave the way for future use of the dataset.

Publication: comparing STRO and TOFLIT18

Loïc Charles and Guillaume Daudin «Cross-checking STRO with the French Balance du Commerce data», in Jan Willem Veluwenkamp & Werner Scheltjens (Ed.), Early Modern Shipping and Trade : Novel Approaches Using Sound Toll Registers Online (pp. 133-150). Boston & Leiden: Brill (2018)


 This chapter looks at trade between France and Northern Europe as reported by the Sound Toll Register Database  and the French Balance of Trade  statistics from 1750 to 1789.

Although these two sets of data are quite different, we developed a common methodology to analyse comparatively both datasets in order to better understand the nature of the information they contain and to assess how to use them.

Our results are: the comparison of the flows registered in physical quantities and in the  number of cargoes by the STRO and the French data registered in values is disappointing. Conversely, the Sound Toll Registers tax indicator is a reasonable proxy for the French data; Norway accounts for a significant part of French imports from Denmark, but it is not the case for French exports to the same country; French exports to each of the Baltic countries share a similar structure and are dominated by wine and colonial goods, there is a strong differentiation of French imports as Swedish exports are made almost exclusively of iron and its derivatives and Danish exports are made mostly of wood and to a lesser extent of European foodstuff, while Russian exports are dominated by primary goods.

    Keywords : 

Trade Statistics ; Sound ; France ; Eighteenth Century ; Baltic Trade ; Scandinavia ; Russia




Published information on the Balance du Commerce source

«France, c. 1716- c.1821» with Loïc Charles, Revue de l’OFCE: Observations et diagnostics économiques, July, n°140, p. 237-248, 2015 

«La collecte du chiffre au xviiie siècle: Le Bureau de la Balance du Commerce et la production de données sur le commerce extérieur de la France», with Loïc Charles,  Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, vol. 58, n°1, p. 128-155, 2011 

The way we treat quantity units (as of February 26th 2018)

The retranscribed variable is “quantity_unit” (1,538 different values).

 Orthographic Normalization

The file “Units_Normalisation_Orthographique.dta” establishes a correspondance between the variable “quantity_unit” and the variable “quantity_unit_ortho” (701 values). 210,000 observations have “livres” in “quantity_unit_ortho” and 160,000 have “unité manquante” (out of 510,000).

Simplification and single-key conversion

The file “Units_Normalisation_Métrique1” establishes a correspondance between the variable “quantity_unit_ortho” and either
– 1. the variables “quantity_unit_ajustees” (simplifying the “quantity_unit_ortho”), “u_conv” (a metric unit of quantity) and “q_conv” (the number of u_conv in “quantity_unit_ortho”). e.g. “quantity_unit_orth” “douzaine de paires” has “douzaine de paires” as “quantity_unit_ajustees”, “pièce” as u_conv and “24” as “q_conv”.
– 2. a variable “needs_more_details” which indicate that we cannot know the metric equivalent without using more variables.

Simplification and Multi-key conversion

The file “Units_Normalisation_Métrique2” establishes a correspondance between :
exportsimports + pays_grouping + direction + marchandises_simplification + quantity_unit_ortho and “quantity_unit_ajustees” (simplifying the “quantity_unit_ortho”), “u_conv” (a metric unit of quantity) and “q_conv” (the number of u_conv in “quantity_unit_ortho”).

Transformations of the french economy through the lens of international trade, 1716-1821

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