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Applied Micro Workshop – Leander Heldring, “Human Adaptation to Environmental Change”

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Leander Heldring: “Human Adaptation to Environmental Change” We study human adaptation to environmental change in a new panel dataset covering geography, settlement, state formation and public good provision in southern Iraq between 5000 BCE and today. We estimate the effect of a series of exogenous river moves in a dynamic panel difference-in-differences framework. We show three main results. First, because agriculture needs irrigation, a river shift results in a decrease in settlement. This effect is stronger in places with less rainfall. Second, a river shift leads to the formation of states and the construction of administrative buildings. Third, these states build canals to where the river formerly flowed, shielding the population from the negative effect of changes in their environment. This result is stronger in places that, after a river move, would have to solve a more severe collective action problem to organize irrigation themselves. The results in this paper show that, throughout history, Iraqis built institutions to offset the negative effect of environmental change. They also support a ‘social contract’ theory of state formation: citizens faced with a collective action problem give up resources and autonomy in exchange for public good provision.

Event details
  • Presentation
When Oct 08, 2019
from 16:00 to 17:30
Where briq, Seminar Room 9/1.1, Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 9
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