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May 03, 2016


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This is very interesting, but I wonder if they're being unfair. Napoleonic rule was very different in the Vendee than the Rhineland. I'd expect Napoleonic influence to be stronger in Western Germany than Western France, frankly...

Who's the "they"?

This trend in economic history concerns me. The authors of such papers are usually very careful to caveat their findings related to past events (correlation /= causation). Still skepticism seems to be lighter than I think is warranted when an appealing 'story' can be made from the data.

I'm glad to see Guleryuz (and others) poking holes in these 'stories'. My priors are that a clean case of causation that stretches to an event centuries in the past should have a high burden. What else do those areas (or parts of them) have in common that could explain faster urbanization with proximate causes that don't trace back to Napoleon?

Did they control for other factors? The Rhineland is also where we see the industrial revolution hit first and hardest in Germany, which can contribute to urbanization. The area was already more urbanized than, say, Prussia, and further growth in that region is not unlikely. You also have the ending of the Rhineland tolls (which, admittedly, was at least partly due to French influence). That would also explain the faster urbanization on the French side.

I fail to see how the French armies themselves contributed to urbanization, unless we think the French collections institutions created incentives to flee to the cities, but I do not see why that would be a long-lasting effect.

I've seen arguments that Napoleon's armies actually slowed the spread of Enlightenment, etc. ideas in Germany which had already been instituting them apace. So I'd suggest that area was already predisposed to urbanize more.

Controls are on page 3299 at the link.

Red Prussia and Bismarck hegemonized both brown and blue, regardless of urbanization putatively attributed to Napoleon et La Gloire.

"...at least possible for foreign armies to impose long-lasting institutional change. But perhaps it is not so certain."

Britain > India

My friends Doug and Carlos have much more to say about that particular historical episode ... but they should say more, since their knowledge exceed mine.

Short version: the treatment of the Anglo-Indians explains quite a lot about why Britain failed India. Implication: French colonization would have ultimately failed, in the sense that a common political community would have been impossible, but might have rather better for Indian development.

Apologies for the delay in replying.

I was responding to this point by Guleryuz: "Since the Revolution reforms and institutions were uniformly enforced across all regions in France, if, as hypothesized, it is found that there were significant regional growth differences in France, it would count as evidence against the hypothesis that all the variation in the regional economic development between invaded and non-invaded German polities were caused by the French institutions."

The problem is that we know this isn't true. Napoleonic conscription rates in western France were much lower than in the Rhineland or Rouen, and there were fewer officials in those regions. There's a map I'll upload later, but conscription was much more successful in northeastern France than it was in southern and western France.

Assuming you think "forcibly drafting young men into the army" is a good stand in for the state's power, then you can make a case that Napoleonic rule was stronger in parts of Germany than it was in parts of France.

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