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Geography and Economic Development

  • John Luke Gallup
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs
  • Andrew Mellinger
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    This paper addresses the complex relationship between geography and macroeconomic growth. We investigate the ways in which geography may matter directly for growth, controlling for economic policies and institutions, as well as the effects of geography on policy choices and institutions. We find that location and climate have large effects on income levels and income growth, through their effects on transport costs, disease burdens, and agricultural productivity, among other channels. Furthermore, geography seems to be a factor in the choice of economic policy itself. When we identify geographical regions that are not conducive to modern economic growth, we find that many of these regions have high population density and rapid population increase. This is especially true of populations that are located far from the coast, and thus that face large transport costs for international trade, as well as populations in tropical regions of high disease burden. Furthermore, much of the population increase in the next thirty years is likely to take place in these geographically disadvantaged regions.

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    File URL: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/pdf/001.pdf
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    Paper provided by Center for International Development at Harvard University in its series CID Working Papers with number 1.

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    Date of creation: Mar 1999
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wop:cidhav:1
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for International Development at Harvard University (CID). 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
    Fax: 617-496-2554
    Web page: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/
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    1. Kornai, Janos, 1992. "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287766.
    2. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    3. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1996. "The Productivity of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew M. Warner, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
    8. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
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