Did Technology Transfer More Rapidly East-West than North-South?

49 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2018 Last revised: 18 Jul 2019

See all articles by Jamie Bologna Pavlik

Jamie Bologna Pavlik

Texas Tech University - Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Andrew T. Young

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business

Date Written: July 2019

Abstract

We offer evidence of the role of continental orientation in the historical diffusion of technologies. Diamond (1997) argued that technologies spread more slowly North-South (N-S) than East-West (E-W) for two reasons. First, it was relatively costly for individuals to transport innovations when experiencing N-S variations in climate. Second, some innovations (e.g, selectively bred seeds) would have been less likely to survive N-S movements. Continents with E-W orientation, then, were characterized by less costly and/or more successful sharing of technologies. We employ Comin et al.’s (2010) data on ancient and early modern levels of technology adoption in a spatial econometric analysis. Historical levels of technology adoption in a (present-day) country are related to its lagged level as well as those of its neighbors. The E- W spatial correlations are generally larger, more likely to be positive, and more likely to be statistically significant. While acknowledging that the difference between E-W and N-S effects is not significant in every estimation, taken together the results offer compelling support for the Diamond hypothesis.

Keywords: continental orientation, technological diffusion, deep roots, economic development, spatial econometrics

JEL Classification: O10, O30, O33, O47

Suggested Citation

Bologna Pavlik, Jamie and Young, Andrew T., Did Technology Transfer More Rapidly East-West than North-South? (July 2019). European Economic Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3141510 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3141510

Jamie Bologna Pavlik

Texas Tech University - Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics ( email )

Suite 167, 2625 Memorial Circle
TTU Administration
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Andrew T. Young (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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