DP14686 Modern Library Holdings and Historic City Growth

Author(s): Eric Chaney
Publication Date: April 2020
Keyword(s):
JEL(s):
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14686

This paper uses more than 30 million records from the union of the world's largest library collections to provide a novel proxy for historic economic activity. Changes in the number of authors affiliated with a city strongly correlate with existing population growth estimates. An empirical Bayes approach exploits this correlation to improve upon current data and provide new growth estimates where none exist. The paper concludes by using the new data to revisit urban growth during the rise of the Atlantic trade.