Roman Roads to Prosperity: Persistence and Non-Persistence of Public Goods Provision

52 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2018

See all articles by Carl-Johan Dalgaard

Carl-Johan Dalgaard

University of Copenhagen

Nicolai Kaarsen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Ola Olsson

University of Gothenburg

Pablo Selaya

University of Copenhagen

Date Written: February 2018

Abstract

How persistent is public goods provision in a comparative perspective? We explore the link between infrastructure investments made during antiquity and the presence of infrastructure today, as well as the link between early infrastructure and economic activity both in the past and in the present, across the entire area under dominion of the Roman Empire at the zenith of its geographical extension. We find a remarkable pattern of persistence showing that greater Roman road density goes along with (a) greater modern road density, (b) greater settlement formation in 500 CE, and (c) greater economic activity in 2010. Interestingly, however, the degree of persistence in road density and the link between early road density and contemporary economic development is weakened to the point of insignificance in areas where the use of wheeled vehicles was abandoned from the first millennium CE until the late modern period. Taken at face value, our results suggest that infrastructure may be one important channel through which persistence in comparative development comes about.

Keywords: infrastructure, Persistence, Public Goods, Roman Empire, Roman roads

JEL Classification: H41, O40

Suggested Citation

Dalgaard, Carl-Johan and Kaarsen, Nicolai and Olsson, Ola and Selaya, Pablo, Roman Roads to Prosperity: Persistence and Non-Persistence of Public Goods Provision (February 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12745. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3130184

Carl-Johan Dalgaard (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Nicolai Kaarsen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

Ola Olsson

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Goteborg, 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/econolaols/home

Pablo Selaya

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Department of Economics
Øster Farimagsgade 5
Copenhagen, 1353
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/pabloselaya

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