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The Historical Origins of Poverty in Developing Countries

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  • Bhattacharyya, Sambit

Abstract

In this chapter I explore the causal relationships between historical factors (for eg., geography, disease, colonial history, and technology) and poverty in developing countries. I start with a review of the existing theories. This is followed by a novel unified framework in order to causally relate these historical factors in explaining the process of development in Western Europe and the New World colonies. The final section applies this framework to explain why Africa, Latin America, and Russia fell behind. My central argument is that Western Europe benefitted from favourable geography which led to highly productive agriculture, food surplus, and institutions conducive to development. In contrast, Africa continues to suffer from unfavourable geography and disease. Institutional weaknesses in Latin America and Russia explain their relatively weak long term economic performance. I also argue that these historical factors matter for contemporary patterns of development across the globe. The chapter concludes with some suggestions for future research on this topic.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhattacharyya, Sambit, 2016. "The Historical Origins of Poverty in Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 67902, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:67902
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    2. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    3. Jan Willem Gunning & Paul Collier, 1999. "Explaining African Economic Performance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 64-111.
    4. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
    5. North, Douglass C, 1994. "Economic Performance through Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 359-368.
    6. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2006. "Das Human-Kapital: A Theory of the Demise of the Class Structure," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 85-117.
    7. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1995. "Institutions and Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Indicators," MPRA Paper 23118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    10. Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2011. "Growth Miracles and Growth Debacles," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13609, April.
    11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Bhattacharyya, Sambit, 2009. "Unbundled institutions, human capital and growth," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 106-120, March.
    14. North, Douglass C., 1989. "Institutions and economic growth: An historical introduction," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(9), pages 1319-1332, September.
    15. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters,in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
    16. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2000. "Agriculture, Climate, and Technology: Why are the Tropics Falling Behind?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(3), pages 731-737.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    root causes; poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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