DP7364 The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment

Author(s): Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian
Publication Date: July 2009
Keyword(s): agriculture, Columbian Exchange, Demography, Economic Development, Industrialization, potato
JEL(s): J1, N1, N5, O14
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7364

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.