Eric Golson

Dr Eric Golson

Deputy Head of School, Undergraduate Programme Director, Senior Teaching Fellow
PhD, London School of Economics; MA, University of Chicago; BA, University of Chicago
+44 (0)1483 684349
02 AD 00
Fridays 9-11am


Areas of specialism

Warfare Economics; Economic History; Game Theory; International Trade; International Labour Migration


Research interests

My teaching

Courses I teach on


My publications


Eric Golson (2012). Did Swedish Ball Bearings keep the Second World War going’? Re-evaluating Neutral Sweden’s role” Scandinavian Economic History Review, 60:02 (June 2012), p.165-182.
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This paper examines the Swedish ball bearings industry during the Second World War, including subsidiary operations in Germany and the United Kingdom. It determines that these ball bearings were very important to the war effort in both countries, comprising in total about 58% of German supplies and 31% of British. Despite favouring Germany with more exports, the Swedish government allowed the British access to Swedish territory to ensure the delivery of the bearings through the German blockade. In relation to price increases for other exports, prices for ball bearings were time-dependent on the position of the acquiring country. From an overall perspective, the United Kingdom received a discount which Germany did not share. However, with the exception of direct exports, representing respectively about 10% and 15% of total German and British supplies, it would have been difficult for the Swedish industry to successfully withhold all supplies of ball bearings to either belligerent. Ultimately, any shortage of Swedish ball bearings in either belligerent could have been overcome only by long-term industrial changes and import substitution programmes.
Eric Golson (2013). “Spanish Civilian Labour for Germany? Re-evaluating Neutral Spain’s Role” Revista de Historia Económica: Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, 31:01 (March 2013), p.145-170
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For political reasons, the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco limited the number of civilian Spanish workers sent to Germany during the Second World War. Despite agreeing to send 100,000, the number of workers never exceeded 9,550. Their impact on the German war economy was small. This paper demonstrates that, in limiting worker transfers, Franco went against his own economic incentives, considering that the Spanish government was taking a commission from the workers’ remittances. By limiting the number of workers sent, Franco satisfied the Allies’ pressure to minimise cooperation with Germany. In support of this argument, this article offers updated estimates for the number of workers, their skill levels and remittances. It also provides the first estimates of Spanish costs and income from the programme.
Eric Golson (2014). “Swiss High Skilled Labour for Germany during the Second World War” Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte, 64:1 (March 2014), p. 16-44.
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During the Second World War, the importation of labour became crucial to sustaining the economies of Germany and Great Britain. Histories of southern German firms during the Second World War suggest that Switzerland provided many highly-skilled labourers for Germany’s war effort, but no study has to date quantified these contributions. This paper asserts the labour exchanges within a free movement and trade area in the border region of Switzerland and Germany were a failure. Instead of a desired workforce of 35,000, a maximum of 1,800 Swiss workers is ascertained to have worked in the German part of this area, representing 7.5% of the total labour force, 12% of the highly-skilled labour force and over 20% of the metal workers in the ten-kilometre German zone. Swiss contributions are somewhat offset by Germans working in the Swiss zone. Ultimately this paper suggests that, despite initially being supportive of increased labour transfers at the start of the war, the Swiss government sought to limit such transfers from 1941. More generally, the economics of this work became increasingly unfavourable, leading to fewer temporary workers in Germany.
Eric Golson (2014). “Swiss Trade with the Allied and Axis Powers during the Second World War” Jahrbuch Für Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 2014:2 (November 2014), p.71-97.
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This paper shows that in order to maintain its position the Swiss government offered Germany concessions on merchandise trade when necessary, but Switzerland was far from being under German control during the Second World War. Germany provided Switzerland with excess imports to exports while paying higher prices for Swiss goods. Although the levels of trade were considerably smaller due to geographic restrictions, Switzerland gave the Allies favourable terms of merchandise trade, in particular after 1943, in exchange for the continued recognition of Swiss independence. This is consistent with, but not necessarily explicit in the current literature. As a result of these findings, this paper concludes, from a merchandise trade perspective, Swiss neutrality was a policy of pragmatic self-preservation.
Eric Golson (2016). “Sweden as an Occupied Country? Swedish-Belligerent Trade in the Second World War” in Jonas Scherner and Eugene N. White (eds.), Hitler’s War and Nazi Economic Hegemony in Occupied Europe (Cambridge University Press, March 2016). ISBN-13: 9781107049703
Jari Eloranta, Eric Golson, Andrei Markevich, and Niko Wolf (eds.) (2016). Economic History of Warfare and State Formation" (Springer, June 2016). ISBN 9789811016059
Eric Golson (2016). “Neutrals at War” Economic History of Warfare and State Formation (Springer, June 2016). ISBN 9789811016059
Eric Golson and Jason Lennard (2016). “Swedish Business in the First World War: A Case Study of Ball Bearings Manufacturer SKF” in Andrew Smith, Kevin Tennant and Simon Mollan (eds.), The Impact of the First World War on International Business (Routledge, 2016). Co-authored with Jason Lennard (Lund). ISBN-13: 9781138930032
Eric Golson, Jari Eloranta, et al (2018). Small and Medium Powers in Global History: Trade, Conflicts, and Neutrality from the 18th to the 20th Centuries
View abstract
This volume brings together a leading group of scholars to offer a new perspective on the history of conflicts and trade, focusing on the role of small and medium, or "weak", and often neutral states. Existing historiography has often downplayed the importance of such states in world trade, during armed conflicts, and as important agents in the expanding trade and global connections of the last 250 years. The country studies demonstrate that these states played a much bigger role in world and bilateral trade than has previously been assumed, and that this role was augmented by the emergence of truly global conflicts and total war. In addition to careful country or comparative studies, this book provides new data on trade and shipping during wars and examines the impact of this trade on the individual states’ economies. It spans the period from the late 18th century to the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War of the 20th century, a crucial period of change in the concept and practice of neutrality and trade, as well as periods of transition in the nature and technology of warfare. This book will be of great interest to scholars of economic history, comparative history, international relations, and political science.
Eric Golson (2018). Small States in Harm's Way: Neutrality in War
Eric Golson and Jason Lennard (2018). What was the impact of World War I on Swedish Economic and Business Performance? A case study of the ball bearings manufacturer SKF
Jason Lennard and Eric Golson (2018). The macroeconomic effects of neutrality: evidence from Nordic countries during the wars