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From Baghdad to London: The Dynamics of Urban Growth in Europe and the Arab World, 800-1800

Author

Listed:
  • Bosker, Maarten
  • Buringh, Eltjo
  • Van Zanden, Jan Luiten

Abstract

On the basis of a large (new) dataset of cities in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in the millennium between 800 and 1800, we try to provide an answer to the question why, during this millennium, the urban center of gravity moved from Iraq (or more generally the Arab world) to Western Europe and to the shores of the Atlantic (during the 17th and 18th century) in particular. We study the characteristics of the European and Arab urban systems involved, amongst others focusing on the interaction between cities, and explain why one system was much more dynamic in the long run than the other. Also we assess the importance of various geographical, religious and institutional factors as the driving forces of urban expansion. Overall, we provide a better understanding of the dynamics of urban growth in the centuries leading up to the Industrial Revolution and an answer to the question why London, an economic backwater in 800, was able to overtake Baghdad, in 800 the thriving capital of the Abbasid caliphate, as the largest city in this part of the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Bosker, Maarten & Buringh, Eltjo & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2008. "From Baghdad to London: The Dynamics of Urban Growth in Europe and the Arab World, 800-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 6833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6833
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
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    4. Kuran, Timur, 2003. "The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 414-446, June.
    5. Bosker, Maarten & Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & De Jong, Herman & Schramm, Marc, 2008. "Ports, plagues and politics: explaining Italian city growth 1300–1861," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(01), pages 97-131, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "The Three Horsemen of Riches: Plague, War, and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 774-811.
    2. Kristian GIESEN & Jens SÜDEKUM, 2012. "The French Overall City Size Distribution," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 36, pages 107-126.
    3. Anderson, R. Warren & Johnson, Noel D & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "From the Persecuting to the Protective State? Jewish Expulsions and Weather Shocks from 1100 to 1800," MPRA Paper 44228, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2014. "Medieval Universities, Legal Institutions, and the Commercial Revolution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 823-887.
    5. Börner, Lars & Severgnini, Battista, 2011. "Epidemic trade," Discussion Papers 2011/12, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    6. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
    7. Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen & Charles van Marrewijk & Abdella Oumer, 2011. "The Positive Border Effect of EU Integration," CESifo Working Paper Series 3335, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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