The Columbian Exchange and Conflict in Asia
84 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2021 Last revised: 22 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 21, 2021
We study the impact of a major permanent productivity shock -- the introduction of New World crops after 1500 -- on violent conflict in Asia. Using difference in difference and event study frameworks, we show that greater caloric suitability due to the Columbian Exchange increased conflict in this context. We argue that a rapacity effect -- a rise in the gains from appropriation, which increased the attractiveness of certain locations to belligerents -- explains this result. We show that areas that experienced greater caloric suitability became more populated and urbanized, and were more likely to be violently occupied by Britain. Our analysis provides new evidence about how a permanent productivity shock can affect violent conflict.
JEL Classification: N15, O13, P16, Q10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation