NES CSDSI Conference

The role of history and diversity in understanding development

9-10 October 2015

Conference description

The conference «The role of history and diversity in understanding development» will take place in Moscow on 9-10 October 2015. The conference is co-organized by the Centre for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions (CSDSI, New Economic School, Moscow) and the Centre for Research in Economic Development (CRED, University of Namur).

The purpose of the conference is to bring together scholars, mostly economists, with a goal of highlighting and illustrating how knowledge of history and diversity can be pivotal for a proper understanding of development opportunities and constraints in presently poor countries. The objective is not only to address the question as to how the distant past of a country influences its present-day opportunities for growth and development (the 'path dependence' approach), but also to examine how the historical experience of economically advanced countries can provide lessons for the developing countries of today. Raising the latter question does not imply adherence to a simplistic unilinear and unidimensional view of long-term development. It rather suggests that there exists an intermediate position between the 'one-size-fits-all' approach to development and an idiosyncratic approach that overemphasizes the particular features of countries. If the pitfalls of the first polar approach are well-known to development economists and scholars from other social sciences, the challenges of the second polar approach are less obvious. The objective of the planned conference is to help bridging the gap between historians and development economists, and to make a strong case for reintroducing history as a field of knowledge in development economics curricula.

The Journal of Development Economics, under the editorial responsibility of Nathan Nunn, has agreed to consider papers presented at the conference for publication in a special issue. The normal reviewing procedures will be followed to ensure the high quality of the issue. The Journal has also agreed to publish the comments on the selected papers.


Day 1 (October 9)

8.30 - 8.45 am

8.45 - 9.30 am
Official opening
Arkady Dvorkovich (The Russian Government)
Victor Sadovnichy (Moscow State University)
Igor Agamirzyan (Russian Venture Company)
Jean-Philippe Platteau (University of Namur)
Shlomo Weber (New Economic School)
Sergei Kapkov (Moscow State University)
Alexander Auazan (Moscow State University)

9.30 - 10.15 am
"The social foundations of developments:
China and Europe compared
by Avner Greif (Stanford University)
Discussant: François Bourguignon
(Paris School of Economics)

10.15 - 11.00 am
"The Medieval Origins of Comparative European Development:
Evidence from the Basque country
by Eric Chaney (Harvard University)
Discussant: Jean-Marie Baland
(University of Namur)

11.00 - 11.30 am
Coffee break

11.30 am - 12.15 pm

"On the Road to Heaven: Self-Selection, Religion, and Socioeconomic Status",
by Mohamed Saleh (Toulouse School of Economics)
Discussant: Tommy E. Murphy
(University of Bocconi)

12.15 - 1.00 pm
"Religious Seduction under Autocracy: A Theory Inspired by History",
by Emmanuelle Auriol (Toulouse School of Economics)
and Jean-Philippe Platteau (University of Namur)
Discussant: Joan Esteban
(Barcelona Graduate School of Economics)

1.00 - 2.30 pm
Coffee break

2.30 - 3.15 pm

"Long-run effects of the Spanish Inquisition",
by Jordi Vidal-Robert (University of Sydney)
Discussant: Guilhem Cassan
(University of Namur)

3.15 - 4.00 pm
"Ethnic Politics and Job Performance in the Kenyan Police 1957-1970",
by Alexander Moradi (University of Sussex),
Oliver Vanden Eynde (Paris School of Economics)
and Patrick M. Kuhn (Durham University)
Discussant: Hosny Zoabi
(New Economic School)

4.00 - 4.30 pm
Coffee break

4.30 - 5.15 pm
"Colonization and Changes in the Social Structure:
Historical Evidence from Kazakhstan
by Catherine Guirkinger (University of Namur)
and Gani Aldashev (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Discussant: Ekaterina Khaustova
(Russian State Social University)

5.15 - 6.00 pm
"Public investment and finance
in the former French colonial Empire 1830-1960", Part 1. Part 2.
by Denis Cogneau (Paris School of Economics)
Discussant: Douglas Campbell
(New Economic School)

6.00 - 6.45 pm
"Employer Opportunism and Labour Supply:
Evidence from Assam¹s Tea Plantations in the 19th century
by Bishnu Gupta (University of Warwick)
Discussant: Yannick Dupraz
(Paris School of Economics)

6.45 - 7.00 pm
Completion of the first day of the conference
Day 2 (October 10)

8.30 - 8.45 am

8.45 - 9.30 am
"Why didn't the Middle East Industrialize in the Nineteenth Century?",
by Robert Allen (Oxford University)
Discussant: Steven Durlauf
(University of Wisconsin-Madison)

9.30 - 10.15 am
"Jewish Communities and City Growth in Europe, 1100-1850",
by Mark Koyama (George Mason University)
Discussant: Maria Petrova
(New Economic School)

10.15 - 10.45 am
Coffee break

10.45 - 11.30 am
"The Cultural Legacies of Bargaining over Trade:
Evidence from the Spanish Red
by Saumitra Jha (Stanford University)
Discussant: Debraj Ray
(New York University)

11.30 am - 12.15 pm
"Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change",
by Nathan Nunn (Harvard University)
Discussant: Pranab Bardhan
(University of California, Berkeley)

12.15 - 1.00 pm
"Economic effects of the abolition of serfdom:
evidence from the Russian empire
by Andreï Markevitch (New Economic School) and
Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Paris School of Economics)
Discussant: Selim Gulesci
(University of Bocconi)

1.00 - 2.00 pm
Coffee break

2.00 - 2.45 pm
"Agricultural Productivity, Conflict and State Size:
Evidence from Potatoes, 1400-1900",
by Nancy Qian (Yale University)
Discussant: Sambit Bhattachariyya
(University of Sussex)

2.45 - 3.30 pm
"Colonial Legacy, Polarization and Linguistic Disenfranchisement:
The case of the Sri Lankan War",
by Paul Dower (Florida International University),
Victor Ginsburgh (Free University of Brussels)
and Shlomo Weber (New Economic School)
Discussant: Alberto Diaz-Cayeros
(Stanford University)

3.30 - 4.00 pm
Coffee break

4.00 - 4.45 pm
"Gender Relations, Family Systems and Economic Development",
by Jan Luiten Van Zanden (University of Utrecht)
Discussant: Andrea Matranga
(New Economic School)

4.45 - 5.30 pm
"Role of History and Institutions in Government Interventionism",
by Sevket Pamuk (Bosphorus University)
Discussant: Gunes Gokmen
(New Economic School)

5.30 - 6.00 pm
Concluding remarks


Professor, Provost, Academic Head of the Center for the Study of Development and Social Interactions, New Economic School
Shlomo Weber

List of participants

  • Gani Aldashev (Université libre de Bruxelles)
  • Robert Allen (Oxford University)
  • Emmanuelle Auriol (Toulouse School of Economics)
  • Jean-Marie Baland (University of Namur)
  • Pranab Bardhan (University of California)
  • François Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics)
  • Guilhem Cassan (University of Namur)
  • Eric Chaney (Harvard University)
  • Denis Cogneau (Paris School of Economics)
  • Alberto Diaz-Cayeros (Stanford University)
  • Paul Dower (Florida International University)
  • Yannick Dupraz (Paris School of Economics)
  • Steven Durlauf (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Joan Esteban (Barcelona Graduate School of Economics)
  • Gunes Gokmen (New Economic School)
  • Avner Greif (Stanford University)
  • Catherine Guirkinger (University of Namur)
  • Selim Gulesci (University of Bocconi)
  • Bisnhupriya Gupta (University of Warwick)
  • Saumitra Jha (Stanford University)
  • Mark Koyama (George Mason University)
  • Andrei Markevich (New Economic School)
  • Andrea Matranga (New Economic School)
  • Alexander Moradi (University of Sussex)
  • Tommy E. Murphy (Bocconi University)
  • Nathan Nunn (Harvard University)
  • Sevket Pamuk (Bosphorus University)
  • Maria Petrova (New Economic School)
  • Nancy Qian (Yale University)
  • Debraj Ray (New York University)
  • Mohamed Saleh (Toulouse School of Economics)
  • Jan Luiten Van Zanden (University of Utrecht)
  • Jordi Vidal-Robert (University of Warwick)
  • Hosny Zoabi (New Economic School)





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