Mark Dincecco - The Columbian Exchange and Conflict in Asia

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Encina Hall West, room 400

We study the impact of a permanent positive productivity shock -- the introduction of New World crops -- on violent conflict in Asia. Using difference in differences and event study frameworks, we document a robust positive relationship between gains in caloric suitability due to the Columbian Exchange and greater conflict. We argue that a rapacity effect -- an increase in the potential prize from resource appropriation to political actors -- best explains this result. We show that conflict was more likely in areas that were newly populated and urbanized following gains in caloric suitability, and that areas that experienced such gains were more likely to be conquered by Britain. Our findings shed new light on the Great Divergence in historical socioeconomic outcomes between Europe and Asia.


Mark Dincecco is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research analyzes the long-run historical determinants of the political and economic development patterns that we observe today, with a focus on Europe and Eurasia. Dincecco is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and three books including Political Transformations and Public Finances: Europe, 1650-1913 (Cambridge 2011) and State Capacity and Economic Development: Present and Past (Cambridge 2017). His most recent book is From Warfare to Wealth: The Military Origins of Urban Prosperity in Europe (Cambridge 2017, with Massimiliano Onorato). This book won the 2018 William H. Riker Best Book Award. In 2016-17, Dincecco was the Edward Teller National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.