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Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe's early rise to riches

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  • Nico Voigtländer
  • Joachim Voth

Abstract

Today, per capita income differences around the globe are large – varying by as much as a factor of 35 across countries (Hall and Jones 1999). These differentials mostly reflect the "Great Divergence" (Sam Huntingon) – the fact that Western Europe and former European colonies grew rapidly after 1800, while other countries grew much later or stagnated. What is less well-known is that a "First Divergence" preceded the Great Divergence: Western Europe surged ahead of the rest of the world long before technological growth became rapid. Europe in 1500 was already twice as rich on a per capita basis as Africa, and one-third richer than most of Asia (Maddison 2007). In this essay, we explain how Europe's tumultuous politics and deadly penchant for warfare translated into a sustained advantage in per capita incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Nico Voigtländer & Joachim Voth, 2013. "Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe's early rise to riches," Economics Working Papers 1383, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1383
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    1. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China; Divided Europe," MPRA Paper 60418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mushed, Syed Mansoob & Tadjoeddin, Mohammad Zulfan, 2015. "Political economy of the Indonesian mass killing of 1965-1966," MPRA Paper 64878, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "“The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature”: Economic-Historical Reflections on Famine," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 225-241, June.
    5. Traviss Cassidy & Mark Dincecco & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2015. "The Economic Legacy of Warfare: Evidence from European Regions," Working Papers 6/2015, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Jul 2015.
    6. Davide Fiaschi & Tamara Fioroni, 2014. "Transition to Modern Growth: the Role of Technological Progress and Adult Mortality," Discussion Papers 2014/186, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    7. Mark Dincecco & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2016. "Military conflict and the rise of urban Europe," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 259-282, September.
    8. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Industrious Selection: Explaining Five Revolutions and Two Divergences in Eurasian Economic History within a Unified Growth Framework," MPRA Paper 73862, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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