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The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas

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  • Nathan Nunn
  • Nancy Qian

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the long-term impacts of the Columbian Exchange -- that is, the exchange of diseases, ideas, food crops, technologies, populations, and cultures between the New World and the Old World after Christopher Columbus' voyage to the Americas in 1492. We focus on the aspects of the exchange that have been most neglected by economic studies; namely the transfer of diseases, food crops, and knowledge between the two Worlds. We pay particular attention to the effects of the exchange on the Old World.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2010. "The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 163-188, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:2:p:163-88
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.2.163
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.2.163
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel Berkowitz, 2005. "American Civil Law Origins: Implications for State Constitutions," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 62-84.
    2. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    3. Jonathan Hersh & Joachim Voth, 2009. "Sweet diversity: Colonial goods and the rise of European living standards after 1492," Economics Working Papers 1163, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2011.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    5. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Dickens, 2020. "Understanding Ethnolinguistic Differences: The Roles of Geography and Trade," Working Papers 1901, Brock University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2021.
    2. Shuo Chen & James Kung, 2016. "Of maize and men: the effect of a New World crop on population and economic growth in China," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 71-99, March.
    3. Felipe González, 2020. "Immigration and human capital: consequences of a nineteenth century settlement policy," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(3), pages 443-477, September.
    4. Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich, 2017. "The African origins of Euro-American development: Pins on an empirical roadmap," MPRA Paper 79925, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Arthi, Vellore & Parman, John, 2021. "Disease, downturns, and wellbeing: Economic history and the long-run impacts of COVID-19," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Richard Pomfret & Kym Anderson, 2014. "Globalisation and Agricultural Trade," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 54(3), pages 285-306, November.
    7. Kym Anderson, 2016. "Agricultural Trade, Policy Reforms, and Global Food Security," Palgrave Studies in Agricultural Economics and Food Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-1-137-46925-0, December.
    8. Cherniwchan, Jevan & Moreno-Cruz, Juan, 2019. "Maize and precolonial Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 137-150.
    9. Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich, 2018. "Endogenous constraints, coefficients of economic distance, and economic performance of African countries – An exploratory essay," MPRA Paper 90065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2013. "Esclavagisme et colonisation : Quelles conséquences contemporaines en Afrique ? - Résumé critique des travaux de l'économiste Nathan Nunn [Slavery and colonization: What contemporary consequences i," MPRA Paper 43732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
    12. Andrey Shcherbak, 2016. "A Recipe for Democracy? The Spread of the European Diet And Political Change," HSE Working papers WP BRP 70/SOC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    13. Leonardo M. Klüppel & Lamar Pierce & Jason A. Snyder, 2018. "Perspective—The Deep Historical Roots of Organization and Strategy: Traumatic Shocks, Culture, and Institutions," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 702-721, August.
    14. Dobado-González, Rafael, 2013. "La globalización hispana del comercio y el arte en la Edad Moderna [The hispanic globalization of commerce and art in the early modern era]," MPRA Paper 51112, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N36 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N46 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N56 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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