The Fractured-Land Hypothesis

63 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020

See all articles by Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mark Koyama

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

Youhong Lin

Guangdong University of Foreign Studies - China Center for Cliometrics Studies

Tuan-Hwee Sng

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 27, 2020

Abstract

Patterns of political unification and fragmentation have crucial implications for comparative economic development. Diamond (1997) famously argued that “fractured land” was responsible for China’s tendency toward political unification and Europe’s protracted political fragmentation. We build a dynamic model with granular geographical information in terms of topographical features and the location of productive agricultural land to quantitatively gauge the effects of “fractured land” on state formation in Eurasia. We find that either topography or productive land alone is sufficient to account for China’s recurring political unification and Europe’s persistent political fragmentation. The existence of a core region of high land productivity in Northern China plays a central role in our simulations. We discuss how our results map into observed historical outcomes and assess how robust our findings are.

Keywords: China, Europe, Great Divergence, State Capacity, Political Fragmentation, Political Centralization

JEL Classification: H56, N40, P48

Suggested Citation

Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús and Koyama, Mark and Lin, Youhong and Sng, Tuan-Hwee, The Fractured-Land Hypothesis (August 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3682342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3682342

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

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Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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Youhong Lin

Guangdong University of Foreign Studies - China Center for Cliometrics Studies ( email )

Guangzhou, Guangdong
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.linyouhong.com

Tuan-Hwee Sng (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics ( email )

AS2 Level 6, 1 Arts Link
Singapore, Singapore 117570
Singapore

HOME PAGE: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/ecssth/stf_ecssth.htm

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