The Importance of History for Economic Development

Posted: 31 Aug 2011

See all articles by Nathan Nunn

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2009


This article provides a survey of a growing body of empirical evidence that points toward the important long-term effects that historic events can have on economic development. The most recent studies, using microlevel 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 direction of current research in the literature.

Suggested Citation

Nunn, Nathan, The Importance of History for Economic Development (January 2009). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 65-92, 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Nathan Nunn (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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