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

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

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

  • Jedwab, Remi & Johnson, Noel & Koyama, Mark, 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Börner, Lars & Severgnini, Battista, 2011. "Epidemic trade," Discussion Papers 2011/12, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    2. 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.
    3. Foreman-Peck, James, 2011. "The Western European marriage pattern and economic development," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 292-309, April.
    4. 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 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(3), pages 503-532, August.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Black Death; cities; growth; Malthusian Theory. Migration; path dependence; Urbanization;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • 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
    • 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)

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