DP16447 Political Competition and Economic Divergence: European Development Before and After the Black
We document how the Black Death activated political competition and led to economic divergence within Europe. Before the pandemic, economic development was similar in Eastern and Western German cities despite greater political fragmentation in the West. The pandemic led to a divergence that reflected regional differences in politics. After the pandemic, construction and manufacturing fell by 1/3 in the East relative to underlying trends and the Western path. Politics institutionalizing local self-government advanced in the West, but not in the East. This divergence is observed across otherwise similar cities along historic borders and foreshadows a subsequent divergence in agriculture.