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date: 16 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the historical origins of poverty and the root causes of poverty in developing countries. It first considers the theories that explain the root causes (geography, disease, colonial history, slave trade, culture, and technology) of poverty before describing a novel, unified framework that unites these theories. The central thesis is that Western Europe benefited from favorable geography that led to highly productive agriculture, food surpluses, and institutions conducive to development. In contrast, Africa continues to suffer from unfavorable geography and disease. Institutional weaknesses in Latin America and Russia explain their relatively weak long-term economic performance. The article argues that these historical factors matter for contemporary patterns of development across the globe.

Keywords: poverty, developing countries, geography, disease, culture, Western Europe, development, Africa, Latin America, Russia

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