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Tracks across Continents, Paths through History: The Economic Dynamics of Standardization in Railway Gauge
A standard track gauge—the distance between the two rails—enables connecting railway lines to exchange traffic. But despite the benefits of standardization, early North American railways used six different gauges extensively, and even today breaks of gauge at national borders and within such countries as India and Australia are expensive burdenson commerce. In Tracks acros ...more
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published February 15th 2009)
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You expect the national standardization of something as important as rail gauge to less fraught with arbitrary choices than it is. Puffert ably recounts the varied history. He then develops an excellent economic model for the lack of process. This is a good counterargument to the over-prevalence of rational choice arguments in economic history and politics.