• Acemoglu, D. & Johnson, S., 2007. Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth. Journal of Political Economy, 115(6), pp.925–985. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      We exploit the major international health improvements from the 1940s to estimate the effect of life expectancy on economic performance. We construct predicted mortality using preintervention mortality rates from various diseases and dates of global interventions. Predicted mortality has a large impact on changes in life expectancy starting in 1940 but no effect before 1940. Using predicted mortality as an instrument, we find that a 1 percent increase in life expectancy leads to a 1.7-2 percent increase in population. Life expectancy has a much smaller effect on total GDP, however. Consequently, there is no evidence that the large increase in life expectancy raised income per capita. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P. & Nunn, N., 2013. On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(2), pp.469–530. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The study examines the historical origins of existing cross-cultural differences in beliefs and values regarding the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture today have less equal gender norms, measured using reported gender-role attitudes and female participation in the workplace, politics, and entrepreneurial activities. Our results hold looking across countries, across districts within countries, and across ethnicities within districts. To test for the importance of cultural persistence, we examine the children of immigrants living in Europe and the United States. We find that even among these individuals, all born and raised in the same country, those with a heritage of traditional plough use exhibit less equal beliefs about gender roles today. JEL Codes: D03, J16, N30. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P. & Nunn, N., 2011. Fertility and the Plough. NBER Working Papers, (16718).
    • Abstract

      The current study finds that societies which historically engaged in plough agriculture today have lower fertility. We argue, and provide ethnographic evidence, that the finding is explained by the fact that with plough agriculture, children, like women, are relatively less useful in the field. The plough requires strength and eliminates the need for weeding, a task particularly suitable for women and children. This in turn generates a preference for fewer children, lowering fertility.

  • Alsan, M., 2015. The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development. American Economic Review, 105(1), pp.382–410. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The TseTse fly is unique to Africa and transmits a parasite harmful to humans and lethal to livestock. This paper tests the hypothesis that the TseTse reduced the ability of Africans to generate an agricultural surplus historically. Ethnic groups inhabiting TseTse-suitable areas were less likely to use domesticated animals and the plow, less likely to be politically centralized, and had a lower population density. These correlations are not found in the tropics outside of Africa, where the fly does not exist. The evidence suggests current economic performance is affected by the TseTse through the channel of precolonial political centralization. (JEL I12, N57, O13, O17, Q12, Q16, Q18)

  • Andersen, T.B., Dalgaard, C.-J. & Selaya, P., 2016. Climate and the Emergence of Global Income Differences. Review of Economic Studies, 83(4), pp.1334–1363. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The latitude gradient in comparative development is a striking fact: as one moves away from the equator, economic activity rises. While this regularity is well known, it is not well understood. Perhaps the strongest correlate of (absolute) latitude is the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UV-R), which epidemiological research has shown to be a cause of a wide range of diseases. We establish that UV-R is strongly and negatively correlated with economic activity, both across and within countries. We propose and test a mechanism that links UV-R to current income differences via the impact of disease ecology on the timing of the take-off to sustained growth.

  • Ashraf, Q. & Galor, O., 2013. Genetic Diversity and the Origins of Cultural Fragmentation. American Economic Review, 103(3), pp.528–33. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The origin of the uneven distribution of ethnic and cultural fragmentation across countries has been underexplored, despite the importance attributed to the effects of diversity on the stability and prosperity of nations. Building on the role of deeply-rooted biogeographical forces in comparative development, this research empirically demonstrates that genetic diversity, predominantly determined during the prehistoric "out of Africa" migration of humans, is an underlying cause of various existing manifestations of ethnolinguistic heterogeneity. Further research may revolutionize our understanding of how economic development and the composition of human capital across the globe are affected by these deeply-rooted factors.

  • Ashraf, Q. & Galor, O., 2013. The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development. American Economic Review, (1), pp.1–46.
    • Abstract

      This research advances and empirically establishes the hypothesis that, in the course of the prehistoric exodus of Homo sapiens out of Africa, variation in migratory distance to various settlements across the globe affected genetic diversity and has had a persistent hump-shaped effect on comparative economic development, reflecting the trade-off between the beneficial and the detrimental effects of diversity on productivity. While the low diversity of Native American populations and the high diversity of African populations have been detrimental for the development of these regions, the intermediate levels of diversity associated with European and Asian populations have been conducive for development.

  • Ashraf, Q. & Galor, O., 2011. Dynamics and stagnation in the malthusian epoch. American Economic Review, 101(5), pp.2003–41.
    • Abstract

      This paper examines the central hypothesis of the influential Malthusian theory, according to which improvements in the technological environment during the preindustrial era had generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not significantly richer, population. Exploiting exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the theory, technological superiority and higher land productivity had significant positive effects on population density but insignificant effects on the standard of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.

  • Ashraf, Q. & Michalopoulos, S., 2015. Climatic Fluctuations and the Diffusion of Agriculture. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 97(3), pp.589–609. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This research examines the climatic origins of the diffusion of Neolithic agriculture across countries and archaeological sites. The theory suggests that a foraging society’s history of climatic shocks shaped the timing of its adoption of farming. Specifically, as long as climatic disturbances did not lead to a collapse of the underlying resource base, the rate at which hunter-gatherers were climatically propelled to experiment with their habitats determined the accumulation of tacit knowledge complementary to farming. Consistent with the proposed hypothesis, the empirical investigation demonstrates that, conditional on biogeographic endowments, climatic volatility has a hump-shaped effect on the timing of the adoption of agriculture.

  • Barrios, S., Bertinelli, L. & Strobl, E., 2010. Trends in Rainfall and Economic Growth in Africa: A Neglected Cause of the African Growth Tragedy. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 92(2), pp.350–366. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      We examine the role of rainfall trends in poor growth performance of sub-Saharan African nations relative to other developing countries, using a new cross-country panel climatic data set in an empirical economic growth framework. Our results show that rainfall has been a significant determinant of poor economic growth for African nations but not for other countries. Depending on the benchmark measure of potential rainfall, we estimate that the direct impact under the scenario of no decline in rainfall would have resulted in a reduction of between around 15% and 40% of today’s gap in African GDP per capita relative to the rest of the developing world. \copyright 2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Becker, G.S., Murphy, K.M. & Tamura, R., 1990. Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth. Journal of Political Economy, 98(5), pp.S12–37. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The authors’ analysis of growth assumes endogenous fertility and a rising rate of return on human capital as the stock of human capital increases. When human capital is abundant, rates of return on human capital investments are high relative to rates of return on children, whereas, when human capital is scarce, rates of return on human capital are low relative to those on children. As a result, societies with limited human capital choose large families and invest little in each member; those with abundant human capital do the opposite. This leads to two stable steady states. One has large families and little human capital; the other has small families and perhaps growing human and physical capital. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

  • Bleakley, H. & Lin, J., 2012. Portage and Path Dependence. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(2), pp.587–644. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Many cities in North America formed at obstacles to water navigation, where continued transport required overland hauling or portage. Portage sites attracted commerce and supporting services, and places where the falls provided water power attracted manufacturing during early industrialization. We examine portage sites in the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including those on the fall line, a geomorphological feature in the southeastern United States marking the final rapids on rivers before the ocean. Although their original advantages have long since become obsolete, we document the continuing importance of historical portage sites. We interpret these results as path dependence and contrast explanations based on sunk costs interacting with decreasing versus increasing returns to scale. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

  • Bloom, D.E. & Williamson, J.G., 1998. Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia. World Bank Economic Review, 12(3), pp.419–55. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The demographic transition a change from high to low rates of mortality and fertility has been more dramatic in East Asia during this century than in any other region or historical period. By introducing demographic variables into an empirical model of economic growth, this essay shows that this transition has contributed substantially to East Asia’s so-called economic miracle. The ’miracle’ occurred in part because East Asia’s demographic transition resulted in its working-age population growing at a much faster pace than its dependent population during the period 1965-1990, thereby expanding the per capita productive capacity of East Asian economies. This effect was not inevitable; rather, it occured because East Asian countries had social, economic, and political institutions and policies that allowed them to realize the growth potential created by the transition. The empirical analyses indicate that population growth has a purely transitional effect on economic growth; this effect operates only when the dependent and working-age populations are growing at different rates. An important implication of these results is that future demographic change will tend to depress growth rates in East Asia, while it will promote more rapid economic growth in Southeast and South Asia.

      (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

    • Clark, G., 2007. A Farewell to Alms, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
    • Conley, D., McCord, G.C. & Sachs, J.D., 2007. Africa’s Lagging Demographic Transition: Evidence from Exogenous Impacts of Malaria Ecology and Agricultural Technology, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        Much of Africa has not yet gone through a "demographic transition" to reduced mortality and fertility rates. The fact that the continent’s countries remain mired in a Malthusian crisis of high mortality, high fertility, and rapid population growth (with an accompanying state of chronic extreme poverty) has been attributed to many factors ranging from the status of women, pro-natalist policies, poverty itself, and social institutions. There remains, however, a large degree of uncertainty among demographers as to the relative importance of these factors on a comparative or historical basis. Moreover, econometric estimation is complicated by endogeneity among fertility and other variables of interest. We attempt to improve estimation (particularly of the effect of the child mortality variable) by deploying exogenous variation in the ecology of malaria transmission and in agricultural productivity through the staggered introduction of Green Revolution, high-yield seed varieties. Results show that child mortality (proxied by infant mortality) is by far the most important factor among those explaining aggregate total fertility rates, followed by farm productivity. Female literacy (or schooling) and aggregate income do not seem to matter as much, comparatively.

    • Cook, C.J., 2015. The Natural Selection of Infectious Disease Resistance and Its Effect on Contemporary Health. Review of Economics and Statistics.
      • Abstract

        This paper empirically tests the association between genetically determined resistance to infectious disease and cross-country health differences. A country-level measure of genetic diversity for the system of genes associated with the recognition and disposal of foreign pathogens is constructed. Genetic diversity within this system has been shown to reduce the virulence and prevalence of infectious diseases and is hypothesized to have been naturally selected from historical exposure to infectious pathogens. Base estimation shows a statistically strong, robust, and positive relationship between this constructed measure and country-level health outcomes in times prior to, but not after, the international epidemiological transition.

    • Cook, C.J., 2014. Potatoes, milk, and the Old World population boom. Journal of Development Economics, 110(C), pp.123–138. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This paper explores the role of two foods, potatoes and milk, in explaining the increase in economic development experienced throughout the Old World in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nunn and Qian (2011) show the introduction of the potato from the New World has a significant explanatory role for within country population and urbanization growth over this period. I expand on this by considering the role of milk consumption, which is hypothesized to be a complement in diet to potatoes due to a differential composition of essential nutrients. Using a country-level measure for the suitability of milk consumption, the frequency of lactase persistence, I show that the marginal effect of potatoes on post-1700 population and urbanization growth is positively related to milk consumption. As the frequency of milk consumption approaches unity, the marginal effect of potatoes more than doubles in magnitude compared to the baseline estimate of Nunn and Qian.

    • Cook, C.J., 2014. The role of lactase persistence in precolonial development. Journal of Economic Growth, 19(4), pp.369–406.
    • Cronqvist, H. & Siegel, S., 2015. The Origins of Savings Behavior. Journal of Political Economy, 123(1), pp.pp. 123–169. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        Analyzing the savings behavior of a large sample of identical and fraternal twins, we find that genetic differences explain about 33 percent of the variation in savings propensities across individuals. Individuals are born with a persistent genetic predisposition to a specific savings behavior. Parenting contributes to the variation in savings rates among younger individuals, but its effect decays over time. The environment when growing up (e.g., parents’ wealth) moderates genetic effects. Finally, savings behavior is genetically correlated with income growth, smoking, and obesity, suggesting that the genetic component of savings behavior reflects genetic variation in time preferences or self-control.

    • Dalgaard, C.-J., Knudsen, A.S.B. & Selaya, P., 2015. The Bounty of the Sea and Long-Run Development, CESifo Group Munich. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        What is the long run impact on development from differences in subsistence strategies during pre-industrial times? Whereas this question has been explored from the point of view of agriculture, remarkably little attention has been paid to the complementary strategy of relying on marine resources. As a step towards closing this gap, we construct an index - the Bounty of the Sea index - which captures the potential abundance of exploitable marine fish that individual countries have had access to, and proceed to explore its correlation with economic development. Our analysis reveals that a greater Bounty of the Sea stimulated pre-industrial development, and that countries inhabited by people with ancestry in regions with abundant marine resources are richer today. Probing possible underlying reasons, we find that populations with ancestry in regions rich in marine resources differ from societies with a purely agrarian legacy in terms of institutions, cultural values and average personality traits.

    • Dell, M., Jones, B.F. & Olken, B.A., 2012. Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 4(3), pp.66–95. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This paper uses historical fluctuations in temperature within countries to identify its effects on aggregate economic outcomes. We find three primary results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries. Second, higher temperatures may reduce growth rates, not just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and political stability. These findings inform debates over climate’s role in economic development and suggest the possibility of substantial negative impacts of higher temperatures on poor countries. (JEL E23, O13, Q54, Q56)

    • Diamond, J., 1997. Guns, Germs, and Steel, New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Co.
    • Easterly, W. & Levine, R., 2003. Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development. Journal of Monetary Economics, 50(1), pp.3–39.
      • Abstract

        Does economic development depend on geographic endowments like temperate instead of tropical location, the ecological conditions shaping diseases, or an environment good for grains or certain cash crops? Or do these endowments of tropics, germs, and crops affect economic development only through institutions or policies? We test the endowment, institution, and policy views against each other using cross country evidence. We find evidence that tropics, germs, and crops affect development through institutions. We find no evidence that tropics, germs, and crops affect country incomes directly other than through institutions, nor do we find any effect of policies on development once we control for institutions.

    • Elvidge, C.D. et al., 1999. Radiance Calibration of DMSP-OLS Low-Light Imaging Data of Human Settlements. Remote Sensing of Environment, 68(1), pp.77–88. Available at: //www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0034425798000984.
      • Abstract

        Nocturnal lighting is a primary method for enabling human activity. Outdoor lighting is used extensively worldwide in residential, commercial, industrial, public facilities, and roadways. A radiance calibrated nighttime lights image of the United States has been assembled from Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). The satellite observation of the location and intensity of nocturnal lighting provide a unique view of humanities presence and can be used as a spatial indicator for other variables that are more difficult to observe at a global scale. Examples include the modeling of population density and energy related greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Fenske, J., 2014. Ecology, Trade, And States In Pre-Colonial Africa. Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(3), pp.612–640. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        State capacity matters for growth. I test Bates’ explanation of pre-colonial African states. He argues that trade across ecological boundaries promoted states. I find that African societies in ecologically diverse environments had more centralized states. This is robust to reverse causation, omitted heterogeneity, and alternative interpretations of the link between diversity and states. The result survives including non-African societies. I test mechanisms connecting trade to states, and find that trade supported class stratification between rulers and ruled. I underscore the importance of ethnic institutions and inform our knowledge of the effects of trade on institutions.

    • Fouka, V. & Schlaepfer, A., 2015. Agricultural Labor Intensity and the Origins of Work Ehtics.
    • Frankema, E. & Papaioannou, K., 2017. Rainfall patterns and human settlement in tropical africa and asia compared. Did African farmers face greater insecurity?, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    • Galor, O., 2012. The demographic transition: causes and consequences. Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, 6(1), pp.1–28. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This paper develops the theoretical foundations and the testable implications of the various mechanisms that have been proposed as possible triggers for the demographic transition. Moreover, it examines the empirical validity of each of the theories and their significance for the understanding of the transition from stagnation to growth. The analysis suggests that the rise in the demand for human capital in the process of development was the main trigger for the decline in fertility and the transition to modern growth.

    • Galor, O. & Moav, O., 2002. Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp.1133–1191.
      • Abstract

        This research develops an evolutionary growth theory that captures the interplay between the evolution of mankind and economic growth since the emergence of the human species. The theory suggests that the struggle for survival that had characterized most of human existence generated an evolutionary advantage to human traits that were complementary to the growth process, triggering the takeoff from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

    • Galor, O. & Weil, D.N., 2000. Population, technology, and growth: From Malthusian stagnation to the demographic transition and beyond. The American Economic Review, 90(4), pp.806–828. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This paper develops a unified growth model that captures the historical evolution of population, technology, and output. It encompasses the endogenous transition between three regimes that have characterized economic development. The economy evolves from a Malthusian regime, where technological progress is slow and population growth prevents any sustained rise in income per capita, into a Post-Malthusian regime, where technological progress rises and population growth absorbs only part of output growth. Ultimately, a demographic transition reverses the positive relationship between income and population growth, and the economy enters a Modern Growth regime, with reduced population growth and sustained income growth.

    • Galor, O. & Özak, Ömer, 2016. The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference. American Economic Review, 106(10), pp.3064–3103. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This research explores the origins of observed differences in time preference across countries and regions. Exploiting a natural experiment associated with the expansion of suitable crops for cultivation in the course of the Columbian Exchange, the research establishes that pre-industrial agro-climatic characteristics which were conducive to higher return to agricultural investment triggered selection, adaptation, and learning processes that generated a persistent positive effect on the prevalence of long-term orientation in the contemporary era. Furthermore, the research establishes that these agro-climatic characteristics have had a culturally embodied impact on economic behavior such as technological adoption, education, saving, and smoking.

    • Goldewijk, K.K. et al., 2011. The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human-induced global land-use change over the past 12,000 years. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(1), pp.73–86. Available at: Link.
    • Henderson, J.V. et al., 2016. The Global Spatial Distribution of Economic Activity: Nature, History, and the Role of Trade, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        We study the distribution of economic activity, as proxied by lights at night, across 250,000 grid cells of average area 560 square kilometers. We first document that nearly half of the variation can be explained by a parsimonious set of physical geography attributes. A full set of country indicators only explains a further 10%. When we divide geographic characteristics into two groups, those primarily important for agriculture and those primarily important for trade, we find that the agriculture variables have relatively more explanatory power in countries that developed early and the trade variables have relatively more in countries that developed late, despite the fact that the latter group of countries are far more dependent on agriculture today. We explain this apparent puzzle in a model in which two technological shocks occur, one increasing agricultural productivity and the other decreasing transportation costs, and in which agglomeration economies lead to persistence in urban locations. In countries that developed early, structural transformation due to rising agricultural productivity began at a time when transport costs were still relatively high, so urban agglomerations were localized in agricultural regions. When transport costs fell, these local agglomerations persisted. In late developing countries, transport costs fell well before structural transformation. To exploit urban scale economies, manufacturing agglomerated in relatively few, often coastal, locations. With structural transformation, these initial coastal locations grew, without formation of more cities in the agricultural interior.

    • Kottek, M. et al., 2006. World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 15(3), pp.259–263. Available at: Link.
    • Kremer, M., 1993. Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), pp.681–716. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        The nonrivalry of technology, as modeled in the endogenous growth literature, implies that high population spurs technological change. This paper constructs and empirically tests a model of long-run world population growth combining this implication with the Malthusian assumption that technology limits population. The model predicts that over most of history, the growth rate of population will be proportional to its level. Empirical tests support this prediction and show that historically, among societies with no possibility for technological contact, those with larger initial populations have had faster technological change and population growth. Copyright 1993, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    • Lagerlöf, N.-P., 2016. Understaning per capita income growth in preindustrial Europe.
    • Lee, R.D., 1988. Induced population growth and induced technological progress. Mathematical Population Studies, 1(3), pp.265–288. Available at: Link.
    • Litina, A., 2016. Natural land productivity, cooperation and comparative development. Journal of Economic Growth, 21(4), pp.351–408. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        Abstract This research advances the hypothesis that natural land productivity in the past, and its effect on the desirable level of cooperation in the agricultural sector, had a persistent effect on the evolution of social capital, the process of industrialization and comparative economic development across the globe. Exploiting exogenous sources of variations in land productivity across (a) countries; (b) individuals within a country, (c) migrants of different ancestry within a country, and (d) individuals residing in regions within a country, the research establishes that lower level of land productivity in the past is associated with more intense cooperation and higher levels of contemporary social capital and development.

    • Manuelli, R. & Seshadri, A., 2009. Explaining International Fertility Differences. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), pp.771–807. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        Why do fertility rates vary so much across countries? Why are European fertility rates so much lower than American fertility rates? To answer these questions we extend the Barro-Becker framework to incorporate the decision to accumulate human capital (which determines earnings) and health capital (which determines life span). We find that cross-country differences in productivity and taxes go a long way toward explaining the observed differences in fertility and mortality.

    • Masters, W.A. & McMillan, M.S., 2001. Climate and Scale in Economic Growth. Journal of Economic Growth, 6(3), pp.167–186.
      • Abstract

        This paper introduces new data on climatic conditions to empirical tests of growth theories. We find that, since 1960, temperate countries have converged towards high levels of income while tropical nations have converged towards various income levels associated with economic scale and the extent of the market. These results hold for a wide range of tests. A plausible explanation is that temperate regions’ growth was assisted by their climate, perhaps historically for their transition out of agriculture into sectors whose productivity converges across countries, while tropical countries’ growth is relatively more dependent on gains from specialization and trade.

    • Michalopoulos, S., 2012. The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity. American Economic Review, 102(4), pp.1508–39. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        This study explores the determinants of ethnolinguistic diversity within as well as across countries, shedding light on its geographic origins. The empirical analysis conducted across countries, virtual countries, and pairs of contiguous regions establishes that geographic variability, captured by variation in regional land quality and elevation, is a fundamental determinant of contemporary linguistic diversity. The findings are consistent with the proposed hypothesis that differences in land endowments gave rise to location-specific human capital, leading to the formation of localized ethnicities. (JEL J15, J24, Z13)

    • Michalopoulos, S., Putterman, L. & Weil, D.N., 2016. The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa, National Bureau of Economic Research. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        We explore the role of an individual’s historical lineage in determining economic status, holding constant his or her current location. This is complementary to the more common approach to studying how history shapes economic outcomes across locations. Motivated by a large literature in social sciences stressing the beneficial influence of agricultural transition on contemporary economic performance at the level of countries, we examine the relative status of descendants of agriculturalists vs. pastoralists. We match individual-level survey data with information on the historical lifeways of ancestors, focusing on Africa, where the transition away from such modes of production began only recently. Within enumeration areas and occupational groups, we find that individuals from ethnicities that derived a larger share of subsistence from agriculture in the pre-colonial era are today more educated and wealthy. A tentative exploration of channels suggests that differences in attitudes and beliefs as well as differential treatment by others, including less political power, may contribute to these divergent outcomes.

    • Motamed, M.J., Florax, R.J.G.M. & Masters, W.A., 2014. Agriculture, transportation and the timing of urbanization: Global analysis at the grid cell level. Journal of Economic Growth, 19(3), pp.339–368. Available at: Link.
    • Murphy, K.M., Shleifer, A. & Vishny, R.W., 1989. Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 104(3), pp.537–64. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        When world trade is costly, a country can profitably industrialize only if its domestic markets are large enough. In such a country, for increasing returns technologies to break even, sales must be high enough to cover fixed setup costs. The authors suggest two conditions conducive to industrialization. First, a leading sector, such as agriculture or exports, must grow and provide the source of autonomous demand for manufactures. Second, income generated by this leading sector must be broadly enough distributed that it materializes as demand for a broad range of domestic manufactures. These conditions have been important in several historical growth episodes. Copyright 1989, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    • Nunn, N. & Qian, N., 2011. The Potato’s Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from a Historical Experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(2), pp.pp. 593–650. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        We exploit regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Our results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a significant portion of the increase in population and urbanization observed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. According to our most conservative estimates, the introduction of the potato accounts for approximately one-quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 and 1900. Additional evidence from within-country comparisons of city populations and adult heights also confirms the cross-country findings.

    • Olsson, O. & Hibbs, D.J., 2005. Biogeography and long-run economic development. European Economic Review, 49(4), pp.909–938. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        The transition from a hunter-gather economy to agricultural production, which made possible the endogenous technological progress that ultimately led to the industrial revolution, is one of the most important events in the thousands of years of humankind’s economic development. In this paper we present theory and evidence showing that exogenous geography and initial condition biogeography exerted decisive influence on the location and timing of transitions to sedentary agriculture, to complex social organization and, eventually, to modern industrial production. Evidence from a large cross-section of countries indicates that the effects of geographic and biogeographic endowments on contemporary levels of economic development are remarkably strong.

        (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

      • Olsson, O. & Paik, C., 2015. Long-run Cultural Divergence: Evidence from the Neolithic Revolution, Link: University of Gothenburg.
        • Abstract

          This paper investigates the long-run infuence of the Neolithic Revolution on contemporary cultural norms and institutions as reflected in the dimension of collectivism-individualism. We outline an agricultural origins-model of cultural divergence where we claim that the advent of farming in a core region was characterized by collectivist values and eventually triggered the out-migration of individualistic farmers towards more and more peripheral areas. This migration pattern caused the initial cultural divergence, which remained persistent over generations. The key mechanism is demonstrated in an extended Malthusian growth model that explicitly models cultural dynamics and a migration choice for individualistic farmers. Using detailed data on the date of adoption of Neolithic agriculture among Western regions and countries, the empirical findings show that the regions which adopted agriculture early also value obedience more and feel less in control of their lives. They have also had very little experience of democracy during the last century. The findings add to the literature by suggesting the possibility of extremely long lasting norms and beliefs infuencing today’s socioeconomic outcomes.

      • Rappaport, J. & Sachs, J.D., 2003. The United States as a Coastal Nation. Journal of Economic Growth, 8(1), pp.5–46. Available at: Link.
        • Abstract

          US economic activity is overwhelmingly concentrated at its ocean and Great Lakes coasts, reflecting a large contribution from coastal proximity to productivity and quality of life. Extensively controlling for correlated natural attributes and initial conditions decisively rejects that the coastal concentration of economic activity is spurious or just derives from historical forces long since dissipated. Measuring proximity based on coastal attributes that contribute to either productivity or quality of life, but not to both, suggests that the coastal concentration derives primarily from a productivity effect but also, increasingly, from a quality of life effect. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

      • Spolaore, E. & Wacziarg, R., 2012. How Deep are the Roots of Economic Development?
        • Abstract

          The empirical literature on economic growth and development has moved from the study of proximate determinants to the analysis of ever deeper, more fundamental factors, rooted in long-term history. A growing body of new empirical work focuses on the measurement and estimation of the effects of historical variables on contemporary income by explicitly taking into account the ancestral composition of current populations. The evidence suggests that economic development is affected by traits that have been transmitted across generations over the very long run. This article surveys this new literature and provides a framework to discuss different channels through which intergenerationally transmitted characteristics may impact economic development, biologically (via genetic or epigenetic transmission) and culturally (via behavioral or symbolic transmission). An important issue is whether historically transmitted traits have affected development through their direct impact on productivity, or have operated indirectly as barriers to the diffusion of productivity-enhancing innovations across populations.

      • Spolaore, E. & Wacziarg, R., 2009. The Diffusion of Development. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), pp.469–529.
        • Abstract

          We find that genetic distance, a measure associated with the time elapsed since two populations’ last common ancestors, has a statistically and economically significant effect on income differences across countries, even controlling for measures of geographical distance, climatic differences, transportation costs, and measures of historical, religious, and linguistic distance. We provide an economic interpretation of these findings in terms of barriers to the diffusion of development from the world technological frontier, implying that income differences should be a function of relative genetic distance from the frontier. The empirical evidence strongly supports this barriers interpretation.

      • Strulik, H., 2008. Geography, health, and the pace of demo-economic development. Journal of Development Economics, 86(1), pp.61–75.
        • Abstract

          This paper investigates the impact of subsistence consumption and extrinsic and intrinsic causes of child mortality on fertility and child expenditure. It offers a theory for why mankind multiplies at higher rates at geographically unfavorable, tropical locations. Placed into a macroeconomic framework this behavior creates an indirect channel through which geography shapes economic performance. It is explained why it are countries of low absolute latitude where we observe exceedingly slow (if not stalled) economic development and demographic transition.

      • Vollrath, D., 2012. Land tenure, population, and long-run growth. Journal of Population Economics, 25(3), pp.833–852. Available at: Link.   Paper
        • Abstract

          This paper brings together the development literature on land tenure with current research on population and long-run growth. Land-owners make a decision between fixed-rent, fixed-wage, and share-cropping contracts to hire tenants to operate their land. The choice of tenure contract affects the share of output going to tenants, and within a simple unified growth model this affects the relative price of food and therefore fertility. Fixed-wage contracts elicit the lowest fertility rate and fixed-rent contracts the highest, with share-cropping as an intermediate case. The implications of this for long-run growth depend on the assumptions one makes about scale effects in the aggregate economy. With increasing returns to scale, as in several models of innovation, fixed-rent contracts imply higher growth through a market size effect. Without such increasing returns, though, fixed-rent contracts lower output per capita through a depressing effect on accumulation.

      • Young, A., 2005. The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of Aids and the Welfare of Future African Generations. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(2), pp.423–466. Available at: Link.
        • Abstract

          This paper simulates the impact of the AIDS epidemic on future living standards in South Africa. I emphasize two competing effects. On the one hand, the epidemic is likely to have a detrimental impact on the human capital accumulation of orphaned children. On the other hand, widespread community infection lowers fertility, both directly, through a reduction in the willingness to engage in unprotected sexual activity, and indirectly, by increasing the scarcity of labor and the value of a woman’s time. I find that even with the most pessimistic assumptions concerning reductions in educational attainment, the fertility effect dominates. The AIDS epidemic, on net, enhances the future per capita consumption possibilities of the South African economy. \copyright 2005 MIT Press

      • Croix, D. de la & Doepke, M., 2003. Inequality and Growth: Why Differential Fertility Matters. American Economic Review, 93(4), pp.1091–1113. Available at: Link.
        • Abstract

          We develop a new theoretical link between inequality and growth. In our model, fertility and education decisions are interdependent. Poor parents decide to have many children and invest little in education. A mean-preserving spread in the income distribution increases the fertility differential between the rich and the poor, which implies that more weight gets placed on families who provide little education. Consequently, an increase in inequality lowers average education and, therefore, growth. We find that this fertility-differential effect accounts for most of the empirical relationship between inequality and growth. (JEL J13, O40)

      • Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University, International Food Policy Research Institute, The World Bank, and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, 2011. Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMPv1): Population Density Grid. Available at: Link.
      • Food and Agriculture Organization, 2012. Global Agro-ecological Zones, United Nations.