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Roman Empire road network and today's economic development

What was the impact of the Roman Empire road network on today's economic development?

That's what this article (paper here) tries to find out. The main empirical problems are the confounding or omitted variables.

"A key challenge in identifying the effects of ancient infrastructure is filtering out the effect of underlying (geographic) factors that may have influenced both Roman road density and modern-day outcomes. Another concern is how to separate the effect of ancient infrastructure on economic development from the potential broader influence of the Empire (e.g. via institutional or cultural channels).

We address these issues in several ways. First, we focus exclusively on observations (i) within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, and (ii) that were ‘treated’ by at least one road. By focusing on areas connected to the network, we reduce the risk of omitted variables bias, and the risk that our results convolute the impact from the legacy of Roman rule more broadly (e…

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