Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The imperial roots of global trade

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wessel Vermeulen



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Throughout history empires facilitated trade within their territories by building and securing trade and migration routes, and by imposing common norms, languages, religions, and legal systems, all of which led to the accumulation of imperial capital. In this paper, we collect novel data on the rise and fall of empires over the last 5,000 years, construct a measure of accumulated imperial capital between countries, and estimate its relationship with trade patterns today. Our measure of imperial capital has a positive and significant effect on trade beyond potential historical legacies such as sharing a language, a religion, a legal system, or links via natural trade and invasion routes. This suggests a persistent and previously unexplored influence of long-gone empires on current trade.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gokmen G, Vermeulen WN, Vézina PL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Economic Growth

Year: 2020

Volume: 25

Pages: 87–145

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 08/02/2020

Acceptance date: 17/12/2019

Date deposited: 28/12/2019

ISSN (print): 1381-4338

ISSN (electronic): 1573-7020

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1007/s10887-020-09174-7


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric