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Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development

Author

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  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

  • Holger Strulik

    (Department of Economics, University of Goettingen)

Abstract

It is a well known fact that economic development and distance to the equator are positively correlated variables in the world today. It is perhaps less well known that as recently as 1500 C.E. it was the other way around. The present paper provides a theory of why the "latitude gradient" seemingly changed sign in the course of the last half millennium. In particular, we develop a dynamic model of economic and physiological development in which households decide upon the number and nutrition of their offspring. In this setting we demonstrate that relatively high metabolic costs of fertility, which may have emerged due to positive selection towards greater cold tolerance in locations away from the equator, would work to sti fle economic development during pre-industrial times, yet allow for an early onset of sustained growth. As a result, the theory suggests a reversal of fortune whereby economic activity gradually shifts away from the equator in the process of long-term economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," Discussion Papers 14-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1421
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/dp_2014/1421.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen, 2015. "Climate Shocks and (very) Long-Run Productivity," Discussion Papers 15-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    long-run growth; evolution; nutrition; fertility; education; comparative development.;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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