Flag choice behaviour in the world merchant fleet

Meifeng Luo, Lixian Fan, K. X. Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Flag selection is not just a crucial decision with regard to ship operation, but also plays an important role in national and international maritime policy. This study uses individual ship registration data to analyse flag selection behaviour, including flagging out decision using a binary choice model, and final flag choice by applying a nested logit model. Operators from traditional maritime countries are found to flag out high-quality vessels, whereas those from open-registry countries tend to flag out low-quality ones. Flag preferences are more sensitive to the registration fee than to the annual due; full-open flags are more elastic than quasi-open ones and substitution among flags within the same group is higher than across different groups. Port State Control, Flag State Control and safety records have opposite impacts on flag choice for ships from closed registry countries and those from open registers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-450
Number of pages22
JournalTransportmetrica A: Transport Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • binary choice model
  • flag preference
  • nested-logit model
  • ship registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • General Engineering


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