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Geography, Biogeography and Why Some Countries are Rich and Others Poor

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Author Info

  • Hibbs Jr., Douglas A.

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

  • Olsson, Ola

    ()
    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

The most important event in human economic history before the Industrial Revolution was the Neolithic transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary agriculture, beginning about 10,000 years ago. The transition made possible the human population explosion, the rise of non-foodproducing specialists, and the acceleration of technological progress that led eventually to the Industrial Revolution. But the transitio n occurred at different times in different regions of the world, with big consequences for the present-day economic conditions of populations indigenous to each region. In this paper we show that differences in biogeographic initial conditions and in geography largely account for the different timings of the Neolithic transition, and thereby ultimately help account for the 100-fold differences among the prosperity of nations today. The effects of biogeography and geography on the wealth of nations are partly mediated by the quality of presentday institutions, but are also partly independent of institutional quality.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2780
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 105.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 25 Sep 2003
Date of revision: 15 Jan 2004
Publication status: Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, 2004, pages 3715-3720.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0105

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Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/
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Keywords: geography; biogeography; institutions; economic growth; Neolithic transition; agriculture; development;

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  1. Robert J. Barro & Paul M. Romer, 1991. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr91-1, July.
    • Robert J. Barro & Paul Romer, 1993. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr93-1, July.
  2. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
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