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State history and economic development: evidence from six millennia

Author

Listed:
  • Oana Borcan

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Ola Olsson

    (University of Gothenburg)

  • Louis Putterman

    (Brown University)

Abstract

The presence of a state is one of the most reliable historical predictors of social and economic development. In this article, we complete the coding of an extant indicator of state presence from 3500 BCE forward for almost all but the smallest countries of the world today. We outline a theoretical framework where accumulated state experience increases aggregate productivity in individual countries but where newer or relatively inexperienced states can reach a higher productivity maximum by learning from the experience of older states. The predicted pattern of comparative development is tested in an empirical analysis where we introduce our extended state history variable. Our key finding is that the current level of economic development across countries has a hump-shaped relationship with accumulated state history.

Suggested Citation

  • Oana Borcan & Ola Olsson & Louis Putterman, 2018. "State history and economic development: evidence from six millennia," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 1-40, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:23:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9152-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-017-9152-0
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    State history; Comparative development; Institutions; Deep roots;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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