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Pandemics, Places, and Populations: Evidence from the Black Death

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  • Koyama, Mark
  • Jedwab, Remi
  • Johnson, Noel

Abstract

The Black Death killed 40% of Europe’s population between 1347-1352, making it one of the largest shocks in history. Despite its 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

  • Koyama, Mark & Jedwab, Remi & Johnson, Noel, 2019. "Pandemics, Places, and Populations: Evidence from the Black Death," CEPR Discussion Papers 13523, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13523
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    RePEc Biblio mentions

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

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    Cited by:

    1. Testa, Patrick A., 2021. "Shocks and the spatial distribution of economic activity: The role of institutions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 791-810.
    2. 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.
    3. Cervellati, Matteo & Lazzaroni, Sara & Prarolo, Giovanni & Vanin, Paolo, 2022. "Historical Political Geography: Theory and Evidence for Europe 1000-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 13719, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2020. "Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories," Working Papers 2020-9, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Franck, Raphaël, 2022. "Labor Scarcity, Technology Adoption and Innovation: Evidence from the Cholera Pandemics in 19th Century France," CEPR Discussion Papers 16928, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Pol Antràs & Stephen J. Redding & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2023. "Globalization and Pandemics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 113(4), pages 939-981, April.
    7. Fabian Siuda & Uwe Sunde, 2021. "Disease and demographic development: the legacy of the plague," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 1-30, March.
    8. Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 2021. "Pandemic Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 20401.
    9. Michele Valsecchi & Ruben Durante, 2020. "Internal migration and the spread of Covid-19," Working Papers w0276, New Economic School (NES).
    10. Guido Alfani, 2022. "Epidemics, Inequality, and Poverty in Preindustrial and Early Industrial Times," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 3-40, March.
    11. Han Wang & Andres Rodriguez-Pose, 2021. "Local institutions and pandemics: City autonomy and the Black Death," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2130, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Sep 2021.
    12. Bosker, Maarten, 2022. "City origins," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    13. Edward L. Glaeser, 2021. "Urban Resilience," NBER Working Papers 29261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Koyama, Mark & Desierto, Desiree, 2020. "The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 14407, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro & Rodriguez-Caballero, Carlos Vladimir, 2020. "Growth, War, and Pandemics: Europe in the Very Long-run," CEPR Discussion Papers 14816, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Lin, Jeffrey & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2022. "What future for history dependence in spatial economics?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    17. Koyama, Mark, 2022. "Introduction to the special issue on culture, institutions, and religion in economic history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 201(C), pages 105-114.
    18. Giovanni Federico & Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2023. "Inequality in Pre‐Industrial Europe (1260–1850): New Evidence From the Labor Share," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 69(2), pages 347-375, June.
    19. Mark Koyama, 2023. "Epidemic disease and the state: Is there a tradeoff between public health and liberty?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 195(1), pages 145-167, April.
    20. Maciej Stefański, 2022. "GDP effects of pandemics: a historical perspective," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 63(6), pages 2949-2995, December.
    21. Edward L Glaeser, 2022. "Urban resilience," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 59(1), pages 3-35, January.
    22. Cemal Eren Arbatlı & Gunes Gokmen, 2023. "Human capital transfers and sub-national development: Armenian and Greek legacy in post-expulsion Turkey," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 1-43, March.
    23. Chambru, Cédric, 2020. "Weather shocks, poverty and crime in 18th-century Savoy," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    24. Jedwab, Remi & Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2022. "Medieval cities through the lens of urban economics," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Black death; Path dependence; Cities; Urbanization; Malthusian theory. migration; Growth;
    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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