Old But Gold: Historical Pathways and Path Dependence
68 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2023
Date Written: July 18, 2023
We use the discovery of gold in Brazil as a historical quasi-experiment and show that gold roads are positively associated with population density and nightlight incidence in contemporary times. We then use official documents from the 19th century to build a nationwide transportation network that grew from the gold roads to show that the entire network also correlates with more population density today. Agglomeration spillovers are more likely to be the main mechanism driving the effect of historical pathways on long-run population density equilibrium, generating path dependence instead of historical persistence.
Keywords: Historical Roads, Geography, Path Dependence, Persistence, Population Density
JEL Classification: R12, N96, O18, O43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation