IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/anr/reveco/v1y2009p65-92.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Importance of History for Economic Development

Author

Listed:
  • Nathan Nunn

    (Department of Economics, Harvard University and NBER, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

Abstract

This article provides a survey of a growing body of empirical evidence that points toward the important long-term effects that historic events can have on economic development. The most recent studies, using microlevel data and more sophisticated identification techniques, have moved beyond testing whether history matters and attempt to identify exactly why history matters. The most commonly examined channels include institutions, culture, knowledge and technology, and movements between multiple equilibria. The article concludes with a discussion of the questions that remain and the direction of current research in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 65-92, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:1:y:2009:p:65-92
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.143336
    Download Restriction: Full text downloads are only available to subscribers. Visit the abstract page for more information.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
    3. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596.
    4. 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.
    5. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37.
    6. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2012. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 20-36, February.
    7. Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2011. "History and Industry Location: Evidence from German Airports," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 814-831, August.
    8. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    9. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
    10. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
    11. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-414, May.
    12. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2016. "Long-Term Persistence," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(6), pages 1401-1436, December.
    13. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W, 2003. "The Productivity of US States since 1880," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 73-114, March.
    14. Casey B. Mulligan, 2005. "Conscription as Regulation," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 85-111.
    15. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    16. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    17. 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.
    18. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote, 2009. "Colonialism and Modern Income: Islands as Natural Experiments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 245-262, May.
    19. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
    20. 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, June.
    21. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    22. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "Historical legacies: A model linking Africa's past to its current underdevelopment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 157-175, May.
    23. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
    24. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
    25. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
    26. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, June.
    27. Bolt, Jutta & Bezemer, Dirk, 2008. "Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education? Evidence from a New Data Set," MPRA Paper 7029, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    28. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. 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 347-369, December.
    30. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. "The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
    31. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
    32. Juan C. Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382.
    33. Grier, Robin M, 1999. "Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 317-335, March.
    34. Karla Hoff, 2003. "Paths of Institutional Development: A View from Economic History," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 205-226.
    35. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
    36. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-1150, July.
    37. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 44-49, May.
    38. Edward Miguel & Sebastián M. Saiegh & Shanker Satyanath, 2008. "National Cultures and Soccer Violence," NBER Working Papers 13968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    40. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
    41. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross‐Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
    42. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2005. "Does Legal Enforcement Affect Financial Transactions? The Contractual Channel in Private Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 223-246.
    43. E.H.P. Frankema, 2005. "The Colonial Origins of Inequality: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Land Distribution," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 119, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    44. Jutta Bolt & Dirk Bezemer, 2009. "Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 24-54.
    45. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer & Rohini Somanathan, 2005. "History, Social Divisions, and Public Goods in Rural India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 639-647, 04/05.
    46. Tabellini, Guido, 2007. "Culture and Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 6589, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    47. Kaivan Munshi & Nicholas Wilson, 2008. "Identity, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice: Linking the Past to the Present in the American Midwest," NBER Working Papers 13717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    48. Lange, Matthew K., 2004. "British Colonial Legacies and Political Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 905-922, June.
    49. Gregory N. Price, 2003. "Economic Growth in a Cross‐section of Nonindustrial Countries: Does Colonial Heritage Matter for Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 478-495, August.
    50. Diego Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 65-97, July.
    51. Mehlum, Halvor & Moene, Karl & Torvik, Ragnar, 2003. "Predator or prey?: Parasitic enterprises in economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 275-294, April.
    52. Leonard Wantchekon & Nathan Nunn, 2009. "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," 2009 Meeting Papers 34, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    53. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-337, May.
    54. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
    55. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
    56. Samuel Bowles & Robert Boyd & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Joseph Henrich & Richard McElreath, 2001. "In search of homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies," Artefactual Field Experiments 00068, The Field Experiments Website.
    57. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
    58. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    59. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Institutions and Culture," Working Papers 330, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    60. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
    61. Jeffrey Sachs & Pia Malaney, 2002. "The economic and social burden of malaria," Nature, Nature, vol. 415(6872), pages 680-685, February.
    62. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 2001. "The curse of natural resources," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 827-838, May.
    63. Jha, Saumitra, 2008. "Trade, Institutions and Religious Tolerance: Evidence from India," Research Papers 2004, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    64. Mahoney, Paul G, 2001. "The Common Law and Economic Growth: Hayek Might Be Right," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 503-525, Part I Ju.
    65. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402, Elsevier.
    2. 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.
    3. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    5. Beck, T.H.L., 2010. "Legal Institutions and Economic Development," Other publications TiSEM 8aa07b48-ce55-4cf6-8754-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Fuchs-Schündeln, N. & Hassan, T.A., 2016. "Natural Experiments in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 923-1012, Elsevier.
    7. Maseland, Robbert, 2021. "Contingent determinants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    8. Andrea Asoni, 2008. "Protection Of Property Rights And Growth As Political Equilibria," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 953-987, December.
    9. 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.
    10. V. Licio, 2019. "When history leaves a mark: a new measure of Roman roads," Working Paper CRENoS 201904, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    11. Congdon Fors, Heather, 2014. "Do island states have better institutions?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 34-60.
    12. Anastasia Litina, 2016. "Natural land productivity, cooperation and comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 351-408, December.
    13. James B. Ang, 2015. "Agricultural Legacy, Individualistic Culture, and Techology Adoption," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1506, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    14. Natkhov, T. & Polishchuk, L., 2017. "Political Economy of Institutions and Development: The Importance of Being Inclusive. Reflection on "Why Nations Fail" by D. Acemoglu and J. Robinson. Part I. Institutions and Economic Devel," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 12-38.
    15. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2016. "The European origins of economic development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 225-257, September.
    16. Bezemer, Dirk & Bolt, Jutta & Lensink, Robert, 2014. "Slavery, Statehood, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 148-163.
    17. James Fenske, 2013. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1363-1390, December.
    18. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120, Elsevier.
    19. Jamie Bologna Pavlik & Andrew T. Young, 2021. "The legacy of representation in medieval Europe for incomes and institutions today," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 88(1), pages 414-448, July.
    20. Litina, Anastasia, 2012. "Unfavorable land endowment, cooperation, and reversal of fortune," MPRA Paper 39702, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    path dependence; colonialism; institutions; norms; culture;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Economic Growth

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:1:y:2009:p:65-92. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.annualreviews.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: http://www.annualreviews.org (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.annualreviews.org .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.