Pandemics, Places, and Populations: Evidence from the Black Death

71 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2019

See all articles by Remi Jedwab

Remi Jedwab

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Noel D. Johnson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

The Black Death killed 40% of Europe's population between 1347-1352, making it one of the largest shocks in history. Despite its importance, little is known about its spatial effects and the effects of pandemics more generally. Using a novel dataset that provides information on spatial variation in Plague mortality at the city level, as well as various identification strategies, we explore the short-run and long-run impacts of the Black Death on city growth. On average, cities recovered their pre-Plague populations within two centuries. In addition, aggregate convergence masked heterogeneity in urban recovery. We show that both of these facts are consistent with a Malthusian model in which population returns to high-mortality locations endowed with more rural and urban fixed factors of production. Land suitability and natural and historical trade networks played a vital role in urban recovery. Our study highlights the role played by pandemics in determining both the sizes and placements of populations.

Keywords: Black Death, cities, growth, Malthusian Theory. Migration, path dependence, Urbanization

JEL Classification: J11, N00, N13, O11, O47, R11, R12

Suggested Citation

Jedwab, Remi and Johnson, Noel D. and Koyama, Mark, Pandemics, Places, and Populations: Evidence from the Black Death (February 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13523. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3336781

Remi Jedwab (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, D.C., DC
United States

Noel D. Johnson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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