DP12573 Emigration during the French Revolution: Consequences in the Short and Longue Durée

Author(s): Raphael Franck, Stelios Michalopoulos
Publication Date: January 2018
Keyword(s): Climate Shocks, Development, Elites, France, Revolution
JEL(s): N23, N24
Programme Areas: Development Economics, Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12573

During the French Revolution, more than 100,000 supporters of the Old Regime, fled France. Local elites in some departments were dramatically reduced, whereas in others the social structure remained largely unchanged. Instrumenting emigration with temperature shocks during an inflection point of the Revolution, the summer of 1792, we find that émigrés have a non-monotonic impact on comparative development. During the 19th century, the decline of landed elites in high-emigration regions led to the fragmentation of agricultural holdings, depressing labor productivity. Nevertheless, this facilitated the rise in human capital investments, leading to a reversal in economic performance during the 20th century.