Geography and Economic Development

81 Pages Posted: 25 May 1999 Last revised: 11 Oct 2010

See all articles by John Luke Gallup

John Luke Gallup

Portland State University

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Columbia University - Columbia Earth Institute; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrew D. Mellinger

Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID)

Date Written: December 1998

Abstract

This paper addresses the complex relationship between geography and macroeconomic growth. We investigate the ways in which geography may matter directly for growth, controlling for economic policies and institutions, as well as the effects of geography on policy choices and institutions. We find that location and climate have large effects on income levels and income growth, through their effects on transport costs, disease burdens, and agricultural productivity, among other channels. Furthermore, geography seems to be a factor in the choice of economic policy itself. When we identify geographical regions that are not conducive to modern economic growth, we find that many of these regions have high population density and rapid population increase. This is especially true of populations that are located far from the coast, and thus that face large transport costs for international trade, as well as populations in tropical regions of high disease burden. Furthermore, much of the population increase in the next thirty years is likely to take place in these geographically disadvantaged regions.

Suggested Citation

Gallup, John Luke and Sachs, Jeffrey D. and Mellinger, Andrew D., Geography and Economic Development (December 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6849. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=145013

John Luke Gallup (Contact Author)

Portland State University ( email )

PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
United States

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Columbia University - Columbia Earth Institute ( email )

314 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, MC 4327
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-8704 (Phone)
212-854-8702 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andrew D. Mellinger

Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID) ( email )

One Eliot Street Building
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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