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Post-1500 Population Flows and the Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality

  • Louis Putterman

    (Brown University.)

  • David N. Weil

    (Brown University and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

We construct a matrix showing the share of the year 2000 population in every country that is descended from people in different source countries in the year 1500. Using the matrix to adjust indicators of early development so that they reflect the history of a population's ancestors rather than the history of the place they live today greatly improves the ability of those indicators to predict current GDP. The variance of the early development history of a country's inhabitants is a good predictor for current inequality, with ethnic groups originating in regions having longer histories of organized states tending to be at the upper end of a country's income distribution. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1627-1682

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:4:p:1627-1682
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  1. Louis Putterman & Valerie Bockstette, 2000. "States and Markets:the Advantage of an Early Start," Working Papers 2000-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 2003. " Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-94, June.
  3. Areendam Chanda & Louis Putterman, . "Early Starts, Reversals and Catchup in the Process of Economic Development," Departmental Working Papers 2005-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  4. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
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  7. 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.
  8. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  9. Hibbs Jr., Douglas A. & Olsson, Ola, 2003. "Geography, Biogeography and Why Some Countries are Rich and Others Poor," Working Papers in Economics 105, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 15 Jan 2004.
  10. 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, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  11. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  12. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2009. "Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1291-1318, December.
  13. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
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