NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment

Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian

NBER Working Paper No. 15157
Issued in July 2009
NBER Program(s):   CH   DAE   POL

We exploit regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Our results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a significant portion of the increase in population and urbanization observed during the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Published: "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment" Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian Quarterly Journal of Economics (2011) 126 (2): 593-650.

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