Aug 31, 2013

Interdependencies in comparative historical economic development

There are many examples of these interdependencies. For example, Europe’s ability to colonize and rule the African continent depended critically on the discovery of the chincona tree in the Andes and its mass production in Asia by the British. This is because quinine, the first effective protection against malaria, is derived from the bark of the tree. 
Similarly, European knowledge of how to effectively process wild rubber obtained from Native Americans, had important consequences for the millions of Africans that were tortured and killed in King Leopold’s Congo. 
Another example is the interdependence between the printing press and both the Protestant Reformation (Dittmar, 2011, Rubin, 2011) and the Atlantic trade (Dittmar, 2011). We have also seen that Catholic conflict with the Ottoman Empire helped enable the spread of the Protestant religion across Europe (Iyigun, 2008). 
We have seen that the presence of the tsetse fly in Africa resulted in less intensive agriculture that did not use the animals or the plough (Alsan, 2012). Because the plough was not adopted, women participated actively in agriculture, which generated norms of equality, which continue to persist today (Alesina et al., 2013). 
This an important explanation for the high levels of female labor force participation that is observed in Africa today. We have seen that Africa’s slave trades resulted in underdeveloped pre-colonial states (Nunn, 2008a), which in turn are associated with less post-colonial public goods provision and lower incomes (Gennaioli and Rainer, 2007, Michalopoulos and Pappaioannou, 2013).
That is from a paper by Nathan Nunn.  

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