Abstract: Cement Cartels in the United States and Sweden during the Twentieth Century: How Did the Cartel Legislation Affect the Cement Industry?

Malin Dahlström


The cement industry in Sweden and US has evolved differently because of the legislation surrounding competition in the two countries. In Sweden the cement producers engaged in a cartel and sales company already in the end of the 19th century. During the 20th Century the concentration process in the industry continued gradually, ending up with monopoly in the 1970s.

In US the cement producers were scattered and the authorities intertwined in what they considered anti-competitive behavior. The Federal Trade Commission broke up the basing point system in the 1940s and the vertical integration into ready mixed concrete in the 1960s. In the1960s and 1970s the structural change took off in US, old plants closed and many mergers and acquisitions took place, this change had already occurred in Sweden 20 years before.

The biggest difference between the two countries’ cement industry have been the export ratio. Sweden has from almost the start been exporting cement, while US imported cement in the beginning and the industry have never taken on exporting. Both industries have been highly regulated, but by different actors; US by the antitrust authorities and Sweden by the cartel.