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Medieval Universities, Legal Institutions, and the Commercial Revolution

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  • Davide Cantoni
  • Noam Yuchtman

Abstract

We present new data documenting medieval Europe's "Commercial Revolution'' using information on the establishment of markets in Germany. We use these data to test whether medieval universities played a causal role in expanding economic activity, examining the foundation of Germany's first universities after 1386 following the Papal Schism. We find that the trend rate of market establishment breaks upward in 1386 and that this break is greatest where the distance to a university shrank most. There is no differential pre-1386 trend associated with the reduction in distance to a university, and there is no break in trend in 1386 where university proximity did not change. These results are not affected by excluding cities close to universities or cities belonging to territories that included universities. Universities provided training in newly-rediscovered Roman and Canon law; students with legal training served in positions that reduced the uncertainty of trade in medieval Europe. We argue that training in the law, and the consequent development of legal and administrative institutions, was an important channel linking universities and greater economic activity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17979.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17979

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  1. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 0810, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2008.
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  5. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Cantoni & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2011. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3286-3307, December.
  6. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2011. "Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany," Working Papers 551, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  7. Bosker, Maarten & Buringh, Eltjo & van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2008. "From Baghdad to London: The Dynamics of Urban Growth in Europe and the Arab World, 800-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 6833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "The Political Economy of Educational Content and Development: Lessons from History," CESifo Working Paper Series 4221, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  10. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
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  11. Börner, Lars & Quint, Daniel, 2010. "Medieval matching markets," Discussion Papers 2010/31, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. How did the antipope affect the distance to school?
    by Chris Colvin in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-04-24 19:19:42
  2. Universities as catalysts of the commercial revolution in the Middle Ages
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-05-02 14:23:00
  3. Universities are useful after all
    by noreply@blogger.com (Paul Walker) in Anti-Dismal on 2012-05-03 04:32:00
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Cited by:
  1. repec:mod:depeco:0007 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2013. "Women, Medieval Commerce, and the Education Gender Gap," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 088, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics.
  3. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "The Political Economy of Educational Content and Development: Lessons from History," CESifo Working Paper Series 4221, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. James Fenske & Namrata Kala, 2014. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "The political economy of educational content and development: Lessons from history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 233-244.
  6. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Wahl, Fabian, 2013. "Does medieval trade still matter? Historical trade centers, agglomeration and contemporary economic development," FZID Discussion Papers 82-2013, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  8. Johannes C. Buggle, 2013. "Law and Social Capital: Evidence from the Code Napoleon in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 566, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  9. Mark Dincecco & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2013. "Military Conflict and the Economic Rise of Urban Europe," Working Papers 7/2013, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Nov 2013.
  10. Börner, Lars & Quint, Daniel, 2010. "Medieval matching markets," Discussion Papers 2010/31, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

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