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Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?

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  • Diego Comin
  • William Easterly
  • Erick Gong

Abstract

We assemble a dataset on technology adoption in 1000 bc, 0 ad, and 1500 AD for the predecessors to today's nation states. Technological differences are surprisingly persistent over long periods of time. Our most interesting, strong, and robust results are for the association of 1500 AD technology with per capita income and technology adoption today. We also find robust and significant technological persistence from 1000 BC to 0 AD, and from 0 AD to 1500 AD. The evidence is consistent with a model where the cost of adopting new technologies declines sufficiently with the current level of adoption. (JEL N10, O33, O47)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 65-97

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:65-97

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.2.3.65
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  1. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2005. "Lobbies and Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 11022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2010. "An Exploration of Technology Diffusion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2031-59, December.
  3. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, 06.
  4. Oded Galor & Quamrul Ashraf, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," Working Papers 2008-3, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  5. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. " States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
  7. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  8. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  10. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," Research Papers 1898r1, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  11. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "Long-Term Economic Growth and the History of Technology," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 1113-1180 Elsevier.
  12. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2003. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Staff Reports 169, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  14. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  15. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1998. "Population, Technology and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 285-351, June.
  18. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  19. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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