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From Baghdad to London: Unraveling Urban Development in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, 800–1800

Author

Listed:
  • Maarten Bosker

    (Utrecht University. Erasmus University Rotterdam, CEPR, and Tinbergen Institute)

  • Eltjo Buringh

    (Utrecht University)

  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

    (Utrecht University)

Abstract

This paper empirically investigates why, between 800 and 1800, the urban center of gravity moved from the Islamic world to Europe. Using a large new city-specific data set covering Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, we unravel the role of geography and institutions in determining long-run city development in the two regions. We find that the main reasons for the Islamic world's stagnation and Europe's long-term success are specific to each region: any significant positive interaction between cities in the two regions hampered by their different main religious orientation. Together, the long-term consequences of a different choice of main transport mode (camel versus ship) and the development of forms of local participative government in Europe that made cities less dependent on the state explain why Europe's urban development eventually outpaced that in the Islamic world. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Maarten Bosker & Eltjo Buringh & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2013. "From Baghdad to London: Unraveling Urban Development in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, 800–1800," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1418-1437, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:4:p:1418-1437
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch, 2013. "Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012," CEP Discussion Papers dp1248, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. repec:eee:jcecon:v:47:y:2019:i:1:p:1-30 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fernihough, Alan & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 9819, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Bosker, Maarten & Buringh, Eltjo, 2017. "City seeds: Geography and the origins of the European city system," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 139-157.
    5. Wahl, Fabian, 2016. "Does medieval trade still matter? Historical trade centers, agglomeration and contemporary economic development," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 50-60.
    6. Serafinelli, Michel & Tabellini, Guido, 2017. "Creativity over Time and Space," CEPR Discussion Papers 12365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Thilo R. Huning & Fabian Wahl, 2016. "You Reap What You Know: Observability of Soil Quality, and Political Fragmentation," Working Papers 0101, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    8. Swee, Eik Leong & Panza, Laura, 2016. "Good geography, good institutions? Historical evidence from nineteenth-century British colonies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 264-283.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic history; long term urban development; Europe; Islamic world;

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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