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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics: Vol. 2 No. 3 (July 2010)

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Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?

Article Citation

Comin, Diego, William Easterly, and Erick Gong. 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?" American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2(3): 65-97.

DOI: 10.1257/mac.2.3.65

Abstract

We assemble a dataset on technology adoption in 1000 bc, 0 ad, and 1500 AD for the predecessors to today's nation states. Technological differences are surprisingly persistent over long periods of time. Our most interesting, strong, and robust results are for the association of 1500 AD technology with per capita income and technology adoption today. We also find robust and significant technological persistence from 1000 BC to 0 AD, and from 0 AD to 1500 AD. The evidence is consistent with a model where the cost of adopting new technologies declines sufficiently with the current level of adoption. (JEL N10, O33, O47)

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Authors

Comin, Diego (Harvard U)
Easterly, William (NYU)
Gong, Erick (U CA, Berkeley)

JEL Classifications

N10: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative
O33: Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
O47: Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics


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