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Geography, Biogeography and Why Some Countries are Rich and Others Poor

Author

Listed:
  • Hibbs Jr., Douglas A.

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

  • Olsson, Ola

    () (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

The most important event in human economic history before the Industrial Revolution was the Neolithic transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary agriculture, beginning about 10,000 years ago. The transition made possible the human population explosion, the rise of non-foodproducing specialists, and the acceleration of technological progress that led eventually to the Industrial Revolution. But the transitio n occurred at different times in different regions of the world, with big consequences for the present-day economic conditions of populations indigenous to each region. In this paper we show that differences in biogeographic initial conditions and in geography largely account for the different timings of the Neolithic transition, and thereby ultimately help account for the 100-fold differences among the prosperity of nations today. The effects of biogeography and geography on the wealth of nations are partly mediated by the quality of presentday institutions, but are also partly independent of institutional quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Hibbs Jr., Douglas A. & Olsson, Ola, 2003. "Geography, Biogeography and Why Some Countries are Rich and Others Poor," Working Papers in Economics 105, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 15 Jan 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0105
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2780
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Barro & Paul Romer, 1993. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr93-1.
      • Robert J. Barro & Paul M. Romer, 1991. "Economic Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barr91-1.
    2. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-380, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2016. "The European origins of economic development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 225-257, September.
    2. Natalia Zugravu-Soilita, 2017. "Trade in Environmental Goods: Empirical Exploration of Direct and Indirect Effects on Pollution by Country’s Trade Status," Working Papers 2017.56, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    4. Lubna Hasan, 2007. "Myths and Realities of Long-run Development: A Look at Deeper Determinants," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 19-44.
    5. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    6. Areendam Chanda & Louis Putterman, 2007. "Early Starts, Reversals and Catch-up in the Process of Economic Development," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 387-413, June.
    7. Ang, James B., 2013. "Institutions and the long-run impact of early development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-18.
    8. Wahl, Fabian, 2012. "Why it matters what people think: Beliefs, legal origins and the deep roots of trust," FZID Discussion Papers 52-2012, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    9. Maria ABREU & Henri L.F. DE GROOT & Raymond J.G.M. FLORAX, 2005. "Space And Growth: A Survey Of Empirical Evidence And Methods," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 21, pages 13-44.
    10. Cao, Shixiong & Wang, Xiuqing, 2010. "Unsustainably low birth rates: A potential crisis leading to loss of racial and cultural diversity in China," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 159-162, January.
    11. Dani Rodrik, 2004. "Institutions and Economic Performance - Getting Institutions Right," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(2), pages 10-15, October.
    12. Daniele, Vittorio, 2013. "Does the intelligence of populations determine the wealth of nations?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 27-37.
    13. Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Chmura, Thorsten & Martinsson, Peter, 2012. "Risk attitudes, development, and growth: Macroeconomic evidence from experiments in 30 countries," Discussion Papers, WZB Junior Research Group Risk and Development SP II 2012-401, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    14. Serge Svizzero & Clem Tisdell, 2014. "Theories About the Commencement of Agriculture in Prehistoric Societies: A Critical Evaluation," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 255-280.
    15. C. Justin Cook & Jason M. Fletcher, 2017. "High School Genetic Diversity and Later-life Student Outcomes: Micro-level Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," NBER Working Papers 23520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Natalia Zugravu-Soilita, 2016. "Trade in environmental goods and sustainable development: What are we learning from the transition economies’ experience?," Working Papers 2016.16, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    17. Ertan, Arhan & Fiszbein, Martin & Putterman, Louis, 2016. "Who was colonized and when? A cross-country analysis of determinants," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 165-184.
    18. repec:oup:jeurec:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:1-53. is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Christian Bjørnskov & Martin Paldam, 2012. "The spirits of capitalism and socialism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 469-498, March.
    20. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen & Nicolai Kaarsen & Asger Moll Wingender, 2017. "Irrigation and Autocracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 1-53.
    21. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & David N. Weil, 2013. "Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait," NBER Working Papers 19603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Charles J. Cook, 2011. "The Role of Lactose Tolerance in Pre-Colonial Development," Departmental Working Papers 2011-12, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    geography; biogeography; institutions; economic growth; Neolithic transition; agriculture; development;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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