Abstract: 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 from 1400–1900 ce and
examine variation in agricultural productivity due to the introduction
of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian
Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes led to a sizeable
and permanent reduction in conflict.
As with a long uttered view of both myself and Tim Almond.
Going to war to gain land is only necessary when land is the limitation upon food supply. Thus the Haber Process led to may folks being blown up by making nitrogen fixing to make armaments possible. But longer term nitrogen fixing makes war less likely as land is no longer the limitation upon food supply.
It also makes Hitler’s concerns over lebensraum 40 years out of date. As well as the obvious corollary, that organic farming will make war more likely.