Economic history

Oded Galor, Ömer Özak, Assaf Sarid, 20 January 2019

Evidence suggests that ancient regional variations in geographical characteristics contributed to the differential formation of culturaland linguistic traits, which in turn shaped development and inequality in today’s world. This column discusses how geographical characteristics are linked to the emergence of long-term orientation and the future tense, how they shaped distinct gender roles and possibly contributed to the emergence of grammatical gender, and how ecological diversity is connected to the emergence of hierarchical societies and reflected in politeness distinctions in language.

William J. Collins, Ariell Zimran, 19 January 2019

Negative sentiment towards immigrants is often based on fears about their ability to integrate into economic, political, and social institutions. This column analyses the impact of the influx of Irish immigrants into the US in the 19th century. It shows that the children of immigrants had assimilated in terms of labour market outcomes within one generation, providing some perspective for the current debate about immigration policy.

David Miles, 04 January 2019

If our wealth has been acquired unjustly in the past, does that injustice fade or persist? David Miles of Imperial College tells Tim Phillips how economics can help to answer this question.

Alexandra L. Cermeño, Kerstin Enflo, 03 January 2019

Urban growth is crucial for modernisation, and the wave of new towns in China since the 1980s is one example of a strategy employed by policymakers to encourage the process. This column analyses the long-run success of a town foundation policy in Sweden between 1570 and 1810. While the ‘artificially’ created towns failed to grow in the short term, they eventually began to grow and thrive, and today are as resilient as their medieval counterparts. 

Marvin Suesse, 17 December 2018

While much has been written on why states disintegrate, we know little about the consequences of state breakup. Using data from the breakup of the Soviet Union, this column studies the short-run economic costs of its collapse. It demonstrates how political disintegration can lead to the dissolution of trade links, and to a correspondingly large fall in output. In the Soviet case, this mechanism helps to explain the disappointing performance of its successor states in the 1990s. The uncertainty surrounding secessions is an important driver of the fall in present output.

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