The Importance of History for Economic Development

41 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2009 Last revised: 18 Sep 2022

See all articles by Nathan Nunn

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

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Date Written: April 2009


This article provides a survey of a growing body of empirical evidence that points towards the important long-term effects that historic events can have on current economic development. The most recent studies, using micro-level data and more sophisticated identification techniques, have moved beyond testing whether history matters, and attempt to identify exactly why history matters. The most commonly examined channels include: institutions, culture, knowledge and technology, and movements between multiple equilibria. The article concludes with a discussion of the questions that remain and the direct of current research in the literature.

Suggested Citation

Nunn, Nathan, The Importance of History for Economic Development (April 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14899, Available at SSRN:

Nathan Nunn (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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