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Historical Warfare and Long-Run Economic and Political Development in India

Anil Menon

We analyze the relationship between historical warfare and modern-day economic and political development in India. Our analysis makes use of a new district-level database that spans India’s past and present. We geocode the locations of 475 conflicts in “pre-colonial” India between 1000 and 1859. To the best of our knowledge, this database represents the first attempt to identify and geocode all such conflicts for India. We use this database to construct a measure of historical conflict exposure for each district in India, of which there are 640 as of the 2011 Census. We then gathered district-level data on modern-day economic and political outcomes. The preliminary results of our econometric analysis reveal significant relationships between historical warfare and local economic and political development today. To explain such results, we provide a tentative conceptual framework that relates historical differences in conflict exposure to state development.