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

70 Pages Posted: 28 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: 2019

Abstract

The Black Death killed 40% of Europe’s population between 1347-1352, making it one of the largest shocks in the history of mankind. Despite its historical 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: pandemics, Black Death, mortality, path dependence, cities, urbanization, Malthusian theory, migration, growth, Europe

JEL Classification: R110, R120, O110, O470, J110, N000, N130

Suggested Citation

Jedwab, Remi and Johnson, Noel D. and Koyama, Mark, Pandemics, Places, and Populations: Evidence from the Black Death (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7524. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3343855

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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