Transport and Communications
Government has generally been involved more intimately in the provision of means of transport and communication than in agriculture or industry, at any rate until very recently. As a consequence, there is usually more statistical material available from the past than on any subject except external trade. Shipping was a matter of close concern to all major maritime powers. The railways were of obvious military, as well as economic importance, and were under government surveillance, if not control, from the beginning. The same has applied to civil aviation. Postal services were long recognised as a government function, though nowhere organised on modern lines until Hill’s example of the penny post in the United Kingdom in 1840. Telegraphs fell naturally into the same niche, where they were not simply an adjunct of the railways, and telephones generally followed. And in Europe, unlike North America, the potential influence of radio led to its direct control by governments, to a consequent desire to find finance from users of radio services, and hence to the almost universal use of licensing systems, which produced a useful statistical by-product. The principal absentees from this list of government influence are inland navigation and road transport, which remain, in market economies at any rate, the fields about which least data are available.
KeywordsOfficial Publication Road Transport Telephone Service International Call Freight Traffic
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