Williams College to Host Conference on Historical Persistence in Comparative Development

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 6, 2014—The Center for Development Economics (CDE) at Williams College will host a conference October 17 and 18 titled “Historical Persistence in Comparative Development.” The conference begins with a talk exploring the roots of economic development at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, October 17, in Griffin Hall, room 3, and continues with sessions throughout the next day.

The question of why some nations and regions of the world are so rich while others are so poor is immensely important to social scientists, policymakers, social reformers, and humanitarians around the globe. Motivated in part by the apparent failure of many policies in the international development arena, a new interdisciplinary school of thought in economic growth and development has emerged over the last decade. Rather than focusing on the role played by the expansion of an economy’s productive resources through the process of modernization, this new paradigm emphasizes the “deep” determinants of economic growth (geography, institutions, and culture), the influence of which are often rooted in historical phenomena from the distant past.

This year’s CDE conference will bring together academic economists who have been actively contributing to this new thinking on development. Their presentations will highlight the measurement and estimation of the influence of various historical factors on contemporary global inequality and assess the potential implications of these findings on a new generation of policies in international development.

Friday, October 17 – Griffin Hall, room 3

2:30 p.m. How Deep are the Roots of Economic Development?; Fertility and Modernity Enrico Spolaore, professor of economics at Tufts University and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

3:30 p.m. Forced Coexistence and Economic Development: Evidence from Native American Reservations

Christian Dippel, assistant professor of economics in the Global Economics and Management Group at the UCLA Anderson School of Management

4:30 p.m. Climate and the Slave Trade

James Fenske, associate professor in the Department of Economics and deputy director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford

8 p.m. Keynote Address: The Global Spatial Distribution of Population and Economic Activity: Effects of Nature, History, and Agglomeration

David Weil, James and Merryl Tisch Professor of Economics at Brown University and research associate of the NBER

Professor Weil has written extensively on various aspects of economic growth and development. He is the author of the textbook Economic Growth. Weil has held visiting faculty appointments at Harvard and the Hebrew University, and has also served in editorial positions for the American Economic Review, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Journal of Economic Growth, and the Journal of Development Economics.

Saturday, October 18 – Griffin Hall, room 3

9 a.m. Engineers, Entrepreneurs, and Development in the Americas

William Maloney, lead economist in the World Bank’s Development Economic Research Group, former professor of economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

9:45 a.m. The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development

Marcella Alsan, assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, core faculty member at Stanford’s Center for Health Policy/Primary Care and Outcomes Research

10:45 a.m. Malthusian Dynamics and the Rise of the Poor Megacity

Dietrich Vollrath, associate professor of economics at the University of Houston

11:30 a.m. “Unfinished Business”: Historic Complementaries, Political Competition, and Ethnic Violence in Gujarat

Saumitra Jha, associate professor of political economy at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business

1:30 p.m. The European Origins of Comparative Development

Ross Levine, Willis H. Booth Chair in Banking and Finance at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley

2:15 p.m. Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party

Nico Voigtländer, assistant professor of economics in the Global Economics and Management group at UCLA Anderson School of Management

3:15 p.m. The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

Stelios Michalopoulous, assistant professor of economics at Brown University, faculty research fellow at the NBER, external research associate of the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick

4 p.m. Intergenerational Mobility and Institutional Change in 20th Century China

Noam Yuchtman, assistant professor in the Business and Public Policy Group at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and faculty research fellow at the NBER


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map