Military Conflict and the Economic Rise of Urban Europe

Room 22 - JG Smith Building
Tuesday 8 October 2013 (14:00-15:30)

David Duell -

The Econometrics and CRETE research groups will jointly host Dr Massimiliano Onorato (IMT Lucca), who will present the paper: Military Conflict and the Economic Rise of Urban Europe.

The seminar will take place in Room 22, JG Smith Building (ground floor), at 2pm on October 8th.

Please also join us for lunch at 12.30 in Seminar Room C, JG Smith Building (second floor).

If you'd like to meet Dr Onorato, please email Giovanna d'Adda;


We present new city-level evidence about the military origins of Europe’s economic“backbone,” the prosperous urban belt that runs from the Low Countries to northern Italy. Military conflict was a defining feature of pre-industrial Europe. The destructive effects of conflict were worse in the countryside, leading rural inhabitants to relocate behind urban fortifications. Conflict-related urbanization in turn had persistent economic effects. Using GIS software, we construct a novel conflict exposure measure that computes city distances from nearly 300 major conflicts from 1000 to1799.

We find that conflict exposure had significant, positive, and robust impacts on historical urbanization. Next, we use luminosity data to construct a novel measure of current city-level economic activity. We show robust evidence that the economic legacy of historical conflict exposure endures to the present day.

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