This paper provides evidence of the long-run effects of a permanent increase in agricultural productivity on conflict. We construct a newly digitized and geo-referenced dataset of battles in Europe, the Near East and North Africa covering the period between 1400 and 1900 CE. For variation in permanent improvements in agricultural productivity, we exploit the introduction of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes permanently reduced conflict for roughly two centuries. The results are driven by a reduction in civil conflicts.
As has been noted about Hitler’s Lebensraum. If German agricultural productivity had risen from 1920 to 1940 by the amount it did between 1950 and 1970 there would have been no point – no economic point at least – in invading eastwards, would there?
So, Greenies, arguing that we should all eat more expensive and land hungry organic food. Why is it that you want to invade Poland?