The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment

47 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009

See all articles by Nathan Nunn

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

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Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

We exploit regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Our results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a significant portion of the increase in population and urbanization observed during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Keywords: agriculture, Columbian Exchange, Demography, Economic Development, Industrialization, potato

JEL Classification: J1, N1, N5, O14

Suggested Citation

Nunn, Nathan and Qian, Nancy, The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment (July 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7364, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1461993

Nathan Nunn (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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