American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 7 (December 2011)


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The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution

Article Citation

Acemoglu, Daron, Davide Cantoni, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. 2011. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution." American Economic Review, 101(7): 3286-3307.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.7.3286


The French Revolution had a momentous impact on neighboring countries. It removed the legal and economic barriers protecting oligarchies, established the principle of equality before the law, and prepared economies for the new industrial opportunities of the second half of the 19th century. We present within-Germany evidence on the long-run implications of these institutional reforms. Occupied areas appear to have experienced more rapid urbanization growth, especially after 1850. A two-stage least squares strategy provides evidence consistent with the hypothesis that the reforms instigated by the French had a positive impact on growth. (JEL: N13, N43, O47)

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Acemoglu, Daron (MIT and CIFAR)
Cantoni, Davide (Ludwig Maximillians U Munich)
Johnson, Simon (MIT)
Robinson, James A. (Harvard U and CIFAR)

JEL Classifications

N13: Economic History: Macroeconomics; Growth and Fluctuations: Europe: Pre-1913
N43: Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: Europe: Pre-1913
O47: Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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