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Pandemics, places, and populations: evidence from the Black Death

Author

Listed:
  • Remi Jedwab
  • Noel D. Johnson
  • Mark Koyama

Abstract

The Black Death killed 40% of Europe’s population between 1347-1352, making it one of the largest shocks in the history of mankind. Despite its historical importance, little is known about its spatial effects and the effects of pandemics more generally. Using a novel dataset that provides information on spatial variation in Plague mortality at the city level, as well as various identification strategies, we explore the short-run and long-run impacts of the Black Death on city growth. On average, cities recovered their pre-Plague populations within two centuries. In addition, aggregate convergence masked heterogeneity in urban recovery. We show that both of these facts are consistent with a Malthusian model in which population returns to high-mortality locations endowed with more rural and urban fixed factors of production. Land suitability and natural and historical trade networks played a vital role in urban recovery. Our study highlights the role played by pandemics in determining both the sizes and placements of populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2019. "Pandemics, places, and populations: evidence from the Black Death," CESifo Working Paper Series 7524, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7524
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp7524.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2019. "Negative shocks and mass persecutions: evidence from the Black Death," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 345-395, December.
    2. Foreman-Peck, James, 2011. "The Western European marriage pattern and economic development," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 292-309, April.
    3. Nico Voigtl?nder & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2227-2264, October.
    4. Börner, Lars & Severgnini, Battista, 2011. "Epidemic trade," Discussion Papers 2011/12, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    5. Guido Alfani, 2013. "Plague in seventeenth-century Europe and the decline of Italy: an epidemiological hypothesis," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 408-430, November.
    6. BAS J. P. Van BAVEL & JAN LUITEN Van ZANDEN, 2004. "The jump‐start of the Holland economy during the late‐medieval crisis, c.1350–c.1500," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(3), pages 503-532, August.
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    Citations

    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Black Death

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    Cited by:

    1. Jedwab, Remi & Johnson, Noel & Koyama, Mark, 2020. "Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories," CEPR Discussion Papers 14828, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Alfani, Guido, 2020. "Epidemics, inequality and poverty in preindustrial and early industrial times," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 520, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Carlos Álvarez-Nogal & Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Carlos Santiago-Caballero, 2020. "Economic effects of the Black Death: Spain in European perspective," Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research (IHE-EHR), Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociación Española de Historia Económica, vol. 16(04), pages 35-48.
    4. Pol Antras & Stephen J Redding & Esteban Rossi Hansberg, 2020. "Globalization and Pandemics," Working Papers 267, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    5. Cervellati, Matteo & Lazzaroni, Sara & Prarolo, Giovanni & Vanin, Paolo, 2019. "Political Geography and Pre-Industrial Development: A Theory and Evidence for Europe 1000-1850," CEPR Discussion Papers 13719, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Chambru, Cédric, 2020. "Weather shocks, poverty and crime in 18th-century Savoy," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    7. Desierto, Desiree & Koyama, Mark, 2020. "The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 14407, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    pandemics; Black Death; mortality; path dependence; cities; urbanization; Malthusian theory; migration; growth; Europe;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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