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The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered

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  • Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay
  • Elliott Green

Abstract

Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson have claimed that the world income distribution underwent a ‘Reversal of Fortune’ from 1500 to the present, whereby formerly rich countries in what is now the developing world became poor while poor ones grew rich. We question their analysis with regard to both of their proxies for pre-modern income, namely urbanisation and population density. More specifically, an alternative measure of urbanisation with more observations generates a positive (but not significant) correlation between pre-modern and contemporary income, while a better measure of population density on arable land no longer produces a robust relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2011. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(7), pages 817-831, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:48:y:2012:i:7:p:817-831
    DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2011.648621
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    Cited by:

    1. Meisel, Adolfo, 2014. "No Reversal Of Fortune In The Long Run: Geography And Spatial Persistence Of Prosperity In Colombia, 1500-2005," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(03), pages 411-428, December.
    2. Acemoglu, Daron & De Feo, Giuseppe & De Luca, Giacomo, 2017. "Weak States: Causes and Consequences of the Sicilian Mafia," CEPR Discussion Papers 12530, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2016. "Precolonial Political Centralization and Contemporary Development in Uganda," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(3), pages 471-508.
    4. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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