Economics Seminars: James Fenske (Warwick)

4 December 2019, 1.00 PM - 4 December 2019, 2.00 PM

James Fenske

1B6, Priory Road Complex

Title: Pre-Colonial Warfare and Long-Run Development in India

Abstract: We analyze the relationship between pre-colonial warfare and long-run development patterns in India. We construct a new, geocoded database of historical conflicts on the Indian subcontinent, from which we compute measures of local exposure to pre-colonial warfare. We document a positive and significant relationship between pre-colonial conflict exposure and local economic development across India today. The main results are robust to numerous checks, including controls for geographic endowments, initial state capacity, colonial-era institutions, ethnic fractionalization, and colonial and post-colonial conflict, and an instrumental variables strategy that exploits variation in pre-colonial conflict exposure driven by the cost distance to the Khyber Pass. Using both archival and secondary data, we show that early state-making and fiscal development, greater political stability, and basic public goods investments are channels through which pre-colonial warfare has influenced local economic development.

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