426/2019 Mark Dincecco, James Fenske, Anil Menon and Shivaji Mukherjee
We analyze the relationship between pre-colonial warfare and long-run development patterns in India. We construct a new, geocoded database of historical conflicts on the Indian subcontinent, from which we compute measures of local exposure to pre-colonial warfare. We document a positive and significant relationship between pre-colonial conflict exposure and local economic development across India today. The main results are robust to numerous checks, including controls for geographic endowments, initial state capacity, colonial-era institutions, ethnic fractionalization, and colonial and post-colonial conflict, and an instrumental variables strategy that exploits variation in pre-colonial conflict exposure driven by the cost distance to the Khyber Pass. Using rich archival and secondary data, we show that early state-making and fiscal development, greater political stability, and basic public goods investments are channels through which pre-colonial warfare has influenced local economic development.
The Economic Journal