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

  title={The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment},
  author={Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian},
  journal={CEPR Discussion Paper Series},
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 eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. According to our most conservative estimates, the… 

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