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Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?

  • Diego Comin
  • William Easterly
  • Erick Gong

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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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-macro
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  1. 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.
  2. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
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  4. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2007. "The Diffusion of Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0704, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Oded_Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth:Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers 2004-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2009. "Lobbies and Technology Diffusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 229-244, May.
  7. 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.
  8. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," International Regional Science Review, SAGE Publishing, vol. 22(2), pages 179-232, August.
  9. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Rosenberg,Nathan, 1994. "Exploring the Black Box," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521459556, November.
  11. Diego Comin & Bart Hobiijn, 2006. "An Exploration of Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 12314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
  15. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
  16. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  17. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2003. "Cross-Country Technology Adoption: Making the Theories Face the Facts," Working Papers 03-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  18. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," 2008 Meeting Papers 617, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  22. 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.
  23. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
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