Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.?
Diego A. Comin
Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit
New York University - Department of Economics
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
September 30, 2008
We assemble a dataset on technology adoption in 1000 BC, 0 AD, and 1500 AD for the predecessors to today's nation states. We find that this very old history of technology adoption is surprisingly significant for today's national development outcomes. Our strong and robust results are for 1500 AD determining per capita income today. We find technological persistence across long epochs: from 1000 BC to 0 AD, from 0 AD to 1500 AD, and from 1500 AD to the present. Although the data allow only some suggestive tests of rival hypotheses to explain long - run technological persistence, we find the evidence to be most consistent with a model of endogenous technology adoption where the cost of adopting new technologies declines sufficiently with the current level of adoption. The evidence is less consistent with a dominant role for population as predicted by the semi - endogenous growth models or for country - level factors like culture, genes or institutions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 66
Keywords: Technology adoption, technology history, economic development
JEL Classification: O3, N7working papers series
Date posted: October 6, 2008
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