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Screenshot 2016-09-19 02.06.35 The map to the right shows GDP per capita in the European Union in 2014 broken down by regions. I’ve long observed that the wealthiest regions of Europe are disproportionately those which were long under Habsburg rule. This fact transcends ethnicity and religion. Catholic northern Italy, Catholic southern Germany, as well as Protestant Netherlands, are all notably economically productive, and were long under Habsburg rule or hegemony.

The observation is just that, an observation. I have no grand theory to explain what is going on. And some have suggested that the outlines of this productive zone of Europe might even go back as far as Lotharingia. But, these sorts of patterns rooted in geopolitical history might hint at the possibility that cultural norms and institutions can be deeply rooted in region and locale.

This is at variance with our intuition that culture is protean and can change rapidly. This is most easily illustrated by the shift from militarism to pacific evident in both Japan and Germany in the past few generations. A shift that most believe could reverse course in short order.

In a similar vein, Peter Turchin has a post up at his blog, Ghost of Empires Past, which shows how pre-modern political structures continue to live in patterns in the World Values Survey!

 
• Category: History • Tags: Geopolitics 
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  1. If you can understand Spanish, here there is a theory based on bureaucracy quality.

    http://politikon.es/2011/06/03/el-discreto-encanto-de-las-burocracias/

    If not, the blogpost is based on this article:

    http://voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/6596

  2. The Netherlands had more time under Habsburg rule than Spain or even Portugal?

    • Replies: @Walter Sobchak
    The predecessor of the current Kingdom of the Netherlands expelled the Hapsburgs in 1583, but the southern portion of their lands, which is now Belgium, remained Hapsburg until the French Revolution. Of course, neither Scandinavia, nor Britain, were ever part of the Hapsburg realms. And Hungary which is red on that map was a core Hapsburg province. And, fat load of good they did for Spain.
  3. So does this violate the hajnal line theory or is that not not a real thing in the first place?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i don't care about the hajnal line theory.
  4. @Robert Ford
    So does this violate the hajnal line theory or is that not not a real thing in the first place?

    i don’t care about the hajnal line theory.

    • Replies: @Robert Ford
    Been waiting for the right moment to confirm that:)
  5. @Razib Khan
    i don't care about the hajnal line theory.

    Been waiting for the right moment to confirm that:)

  6. Razib,
    have you stated your reasons for not caring about the Hajnal line someplace you can link to?
    If not, I would like to read a comment or post on that subject from you.

  7. Eyeballing the map, I think it might just end up being that people in regions that contain large cities are more productive than those that aren’t. France, England, Spain and Ireland all have single “prime cities”, and so most of their most economically productive people are packed into a single region. Germany and Italy have a bunch of mid-tier cities, and so they spread things around.

    Of course, those patterns of urbanization are themselves relics of The Hapsburg and the HRE. But I don’t think they’re really well described by “cultural norms and institutions”, they’re just a product of the relatively lose political centralization of the HRE.

    • Agree: Marcus
    • Replies: @Matt_
    Comparing with the population density map of Europe seems fairly interesting: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53189615e4b01676f172f06d/t/541be412e4b0d73925129e54/1411114015836/.

    To my eyeball, they seem to correlate fairly well, so as you would expect it looks like productive forces are concentrated where advantages from greater distribution of labour and more intense market activity among denser populations mostly rule the day.

    The most notable mismatchs I can see with a disjoint between population density and present day > average gdp per capita, which isn't explained by resources (Aberdeen and Norwegian gas and oil) or virtual GDP from tax avoidance that doesn't tend to end up in the pockets of locals (the Double Irish), seem to be, a) Sweden and Denmark are more productive than their population density suggests, while b) the North of England is poorer than its population density would suggest. (The Danelaw is no predicative validity here! ;) ). Southern Italy seems a bit less productive than its density would predict as well?

    I think I can can explain the North of England by massive disproportionate early industrialisation, where entrepreneurial locals invented the Industrial Revolution, had local industrialisation on a larger scale than most other subregions on earth have had, built large cities, then were exposed to a world that had caught up, and weren't well placed to substitute industrial activity for services. That North-South divide is a major problem for British society today. The Danes and Swedes I can't really explain.
    , @Doug Jones
    A lot of the central rich area on the Continent corresponds to what the Norwegian political scientist Stein Rokkan called "city-belt Europe": a region of powerful rich cities that resisted unification until very late, in contrast to the centralized territorial monarchies to the West and East. Peter Turchin called this area an "asabiya black hole," the fragmented core of the Carolingian realm. Of course the effects of communism are also visible in the East.
  8. This is most easily illustrated by the shift from militarism to pacific evident in both Japan and Germany in the past few generations

    In both cultures militarism was more the exception than the recent pacifism. Before the late 19th century neither culture was particularly expansionist. Japan was isolationist for most of its history, and to a large extent returned that condition after WWII. Until 1871 “Germany” was a geographical and cultural space, not a country. Many of the constituents of that space were rather famous for military incompetence – Saxony and Austria being obvious examples. Bavarian soldiers performed well under French command but were hardly a military power along the lines of France or Spain. Outside Prussia German militarism tended to focus more on colorful uniforms and parades, meant to glorify the ruler of the principality or dukedom, rather than on actual military prowess. (And the Nazis also tended to put a lot more emphasis on aesthetics than the more practical Americans and Soviets). Ironically the German tribe with the best reputation for being military badasses for most of medieval and early modern history would be the Swiss. If you look at the longer march of history, the Germans haven’t shifted all that much, they have simply excised the Prussian tradition from their culture.

  9. @Miguel Madeira
    The Netherlands had more time under Habsburg rule than Spain or even Portugal?

    The predecessor of the current Kingdom of the Netherlands expelled the Hapsburgs in 1583, but the southern portion of their lands, which is now Belgium, remained Hapsburg until the French Revolution. Of course, neither Scandinavia, nor Britain, were ever part of the Hapsburg realms. And Hungary which is red on that map was a core Hapsburg province. And, fat load of good they did for Spain.

    • Replies: @yaqub the mad scientist
    James Michener blamed a lot of Spain's historic woes on it culture of pundonor and the legacy of the Moorish occupation.
    , @PV van der Byl
    Re Spain: The Habsburgs were succeeded by the Bourbons in 1700. So maybe Spain isn't entirely the fault of the Habsburgs.
  10. I guess we can now proceed to ignore Max Weber.

  11. The Hapsburgs were pretty good at marrying to become rulers of economically vibrant areas. The Low Countries were major centers of trade and manufacturing during the Medieval Period. They were ruled by the Burgundians, a branch of the Valois family, until that line went extinct and Mary of Burgundy married Hapsburg Maximiliam I. The Swiss were able to get out of Hapsburg yoke early on in 1499.

  12. In order to understand the GDP per capita map, take into consideration that the original 6 member EEC was designed around the economies of those 6 countries. Later entrants fitted in as best they could. For example northern agricultural products always received higher subsidies than southern agricultural products, while the UK always lost out on agricultural subsidies since it had a smaller agricultural sector. Therefore it is to be expected that the original 6 members and regions similar to them would fare better. The Italian south was always an outlier here, if it were a separate country from the north of Italy it would not have been a founding member of the EEC.

    Also take into consideration distance from the core of the EEC and geographical barriers to transportation. In past decades transportation costs within Europe were a considerable issue, which is why the EU spends significant sums to develop regional transport infrastructure.

    Having said all that though, you still have a point.

  13. What I see on this map is: the most germanic a region is, the most prone to be productive these regions are.

    What made the germanic people so different from the portuguese?

  14. I think it is interesting that the wealthy region includes the whole region of Alps. It extends over this natural barrier as if it were nothing, even though the high altitude areas themselves are not ideal for making business due to higher transport costs etc.
    Then again Switzerland for example profits a lot from Hydropower.

  15. There are lots of interesting data points on the general issue.

    * There is a study out there in development economics that demonstrated pretty convincingly that economic growth in West Africa was better predicted by ethnic/tribal territorial lines than by artificially drawn colonial country boundaries.

    * The truly remarkably finding of Albion’s Seed beyond merely tracing regional culture to English origins of early settlement, is that regional culture was persistent despite subsequent significant migration of people who were not part of the original regional culture. Thus, e.g., Puritans were decisive in establishing the cultural norms of New England and those norm persisted at the expense of the norms of immigrants from Catholic Europe who subsequently settled there. As long as the existing regional culture is not obliterated by the newcomers (e.g. as in the case of Australian aboriginal people in the face of English migrants to Australia), the existing regional culture has an outsized impact of the region’s ongoing culture.

    * U.S. politics demonstrate that regional political attitudes within the U.S. have with only limited exceptions, persisted from the Revolutionary era to the present on issue like being pro-war or anti-war, and on a general conservative-liberal dimension the persistence has been demonstrated right down to the county level with only limited exceptions from say 1876 to the present, despite realignment of the actual political parties involved.

    * The data points are suggestive of cultural persistence over time periods that may go back a century or two, but not many hundreds of years or more. For example, in the case of Italy, the territory that was the Kingdom of Sicily in Southern Italy until the 1870s, lags, despite the fact that Italy was united in the Western Roman Empire from the early Iron Age until the 500s CE or so, and wasn’t under significantly different styles of rulers until the Renaissance or so, just 500 years ago.

    Similarly, there are still stark differences to the south and north of the New Mexico border even though that region was united both in Old Mexico and before the New Spain and before that even in some Native American empires.

    In acute cases — e.g. North Korea v. South Korea, differences that have no historical basis can emerge rather rapidly. Similarly genuine differences emerged in West v. East Germany in the post-WWII to Unification time period.

    A lot of the story of the early emergence of industrialization in the U.K. and likewise in Japan demonstrate how traumatic a major cultural transition to accommodate new means of production can be socially to a society even in the face of a strong state in each case supervising the transition.

  16. @simplicio
    Eyeballing the map, I think it might just end up being that people in regions that contain large cities are more productive than those that aren't. France, England, Spain and Ireland all have single "prime cities", and so most of their most economically productive people are packed into a single region. Germany and Italy have a bunch of mid-tier cities, and so they spread things around.

    Of course, those patterns of urbanization are themselves relics of The Hapsburg and the HRE. But I don't think they're really well described by "cultural norms and institutions", they're just a product of the relatively lose political centralization of the HRE.

    Comparing with the population density map of Europe seems fairly interesting: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53189615e4b01676f172f06d/t/541be412e4b0d73925129e54/1411114015836/.

    To my eyeball, they seem to correlate fairly well, so as you would expect it looks like productive forces are concentrated where advantages from greater distribution of labour and more intense market activity among denser populations mostly rule the day.

    The most notable mismatchs I can see with a disjoint between population density and present day > average gdp per capita, which isn’t explained by resources (Aberdeen and Norwegian gas and oil) or virtual GDP from tax avoidance that doesn’t tend to end up in the pockets of locals (the Double Irish), seem to be, a) Sweden and Denmark are more productive than their population density suggests, while b) the North of England is poorer than its population density would suggest. (The Danelaw is no predicative validity here! 😉 ). Southern Italy seems a bit less productive than its density would predict as well?

    I think I can can explain the North of England by massive disproportionate early industrialisation, where entrepreneurial locals invented the Industrial Revolution, had local industrialisation on a larger scale than most other subregions on earth have had, built large cities, then were exposed to a world that had caught up, and weren’t well placed to substitute industrial activity for services. That North-South divide is a major problem for British society today. The Danes and Swedes I can’t really explain.

    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    Swedes live predominantly in densely populated cities and surrounding areas but have lots of nearly empty territory that skews the national population density. Colorado has similar issues - lots of people in dense cities and lots of vacant or near vacant land.
  17. @Matt_
    Comparing with the population density map of Europe seems fairly interesting: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53189615e4b01676f172f06d/t/541be412e4b0d73925129e54/1411114015836/.

    To my eyeball, they seem to correlate fairly well, so as you would expect it looks like productive forces are concentrated where advantages from greater distribution of labour and more intense market activity among denser populations mostly rule the day.

    The most notable mismatchs I can see with a disjoint between population density and present day > average gdp per capita, which isn't explained by resources (Aberdeen and Norwegian gas and oil) or virtual GDP from tax avoidance that doesn't tend to end up in the pockets of locals (the Double Irish), seem to be, a) Sweden and Denmark are more productive than their population density suggests, while b) the North of England is poorer than its population density would suggest. (The Danelaw is no predicative validity here! ;) ). Southern Italy seems a bit less productive than its density would predict as well?

    I think I can can explain the North of England by massive disproportionate early industrialisation, where entrepreneurial locals invented the Industrial Revolution, had local industrialisation on a larger scale than most other subregions on earth have had, built large cities, then were exposed to a world that had caught up, and weren't well placed to substitute industrial activity for services. That North-South divide is a major problem for British society today. The Danes and Swedes I can't really explain.

    Swedes live predominantly in densely populated cities and surrounding areas but have lots of nearly empty territory that skews the national population density. Colorado has similar issues – lots of people in dense cities and lots of vacant or near vacant land.

    • Replies: @Matt_
    Ah. Urban density may fit with their pattern as well, with density beneath the resolution of the GDP map.
  18. Good post Razib – very interesting data to ponder over. I wish there was something parallel for other regions of the world.

    Peace.

  19. No the Hapsburg were the HRE figurehead for the lasts 4 century of the empire but their base was never more than a modest fraction of the blue core. Their places they had absolute power outside Austria was first Spain and then Hungary and points east that are firmly red on the map.

    What i see is a blue area that has only been unified countries since the American civil war, but spent from the break up of Charlemagne till the the 1860’s as city states and small states. Areas that in time of a pacific peace like of the last 70 years under the pax Americana, thrived, but in times of chaos like the 30 years wars were gutted. The red periphery had rulers strong enough to pacify large states, ant their centers are the blue spots in their lands the core has states too small to either dictate to their neighbors or to their citizens who could walk to a new prince. , leading to 10o0 years of selecting for people who can work together. its interesting to look at the reddest parts of the the uk( the north of England and ulster) are the parts closet to a long hostile neighbor even if the kingdoms were united centuries ago, the attitudes remain , and were transferred to Appalachia too

    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    Nice analysis. A plausible hypothesis.
  20. Rhine imo

    major arterial rivers -> trade -> competition -> higher average IQ

    causes for exceptions
    – other big rivers (Po, Main)
    – capital cities (same competition reason)
    – oil
    – tax evasion
    – scandinavians

    • Replies: @PD Shaw
    "Rhine imo"

    That's close to my opinion. There have been important trade routes along the Rhine connecting either to the Po or the Rhone river valleys for thousands of years. The route is not so long as to be easily disrupted. Its north/south direction increases the variety of produce en route, and connects the Mediterranean and North Sea zones.

    The political unity or disunity in the area seems ephemeral in comparison, but perhaps one advantage of this trade route is that alternatives routes were frequently available so that governments were limited in the rents it could extract.
  21. @okie
    No the Hapsburg were the HRE figurehead for the lasts 4 century of the empire but their base was never more than a modest fraction of the blue core. Their places they had absolute power outside Austria was first Spain and then Hungary and points east that are firmly red on the map.

    What i see is a blue area that has only been unified countries since the American civil war, but spent from the break up of Charlemagne till the the 1860's as city states and small states. Areas that in time of a pacific peace like of the last 70 years under the pax Americana, thrived, but in times of chaos like the 30 years wars were gutted. The red periphery had rulers strong enough to pacify large states, ant their centers are the blue spots in their lands the core has states too small to either dictate to their neighbors or to their citizens who could walk to a new prince. , leading to 10o0 years of selecting for people who can work together. its interesting to look at the reddest parts of the the uk( the north of England and ulster) are the parts closet to a long hostile neighbor even if the kingdoms were united centuries ago, the attitudes remain , and were transferred to Appalachia too

    Nice analysis. A plausible hypothesis.

  22. @simplicio
    Eyeballing the map, I think it might just end up being that people in regions that contain large cities are more productive than those that aren't. France, England, Spain and Ireland all have single "prime cities", and so most of their most economically productive people are packed into a single region. Germany and Italy have a bunch of mid-tier cities, and so they spread things around.

    Of course, those patterns of urbanization are themselves relics of The Hapsburg and the HRE. But I don't think they're really well described by "cultural norms and institutions", they're just a product of the relatively lose political centralization of the HRE.

    A lot of the central rich area on the Continent corresponds to what the Norwegian political scientist Stein Rokkan called “city-belt Europe”: a region of powerful rich cities that resisted unification until very late, in contrast to the centralized territorial monarchies to the West and East. Peter Turchin called this area an “asabiya black hole,” the fragmented core of the Carolingian realm. Of course the effects of communism are also visible in the East.

  23. @Walter Sobchak
    The predecessor of the current Kingdom of the Netherlands expelled the Hapsburgs in 1583, but the southern portion of their lands, which is now Belgium, remained Hapsburg until the French Revolution. Of course, neither Scandinavia, nor Britain, were ever part of the Hapsburg realms. And Hungary which is red on that map was a core Hapsburg province. And, fat load of good they did for Spain.

    James Michener blamed a lot of Spain’s historic woes on it culture of pundonor and the legacy of the Moorish occupation.

  24. @Walter Sobchak
    The predecessor of the current Kingdom of the Netherlands expelled the Hapsburgs in 1583, but the southern portion of their lands, which is now Belgium, remained Hapsburg until the French Revolution. Of course, neither Scandinavia, nor Britain, were ever part of the Hapsburg realms. And Hungary which is red on that map was a core Hapsburg province. And, fat load of good they did for Spain.

    Re Spain: The Habsburgs were succeeded by the Bourbons in 1700. So maybe Spain isn’t entirely the fault of the Habsburgs.

    • Replies: @Walter Sobchak
    Spain's problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition. The Hapsburgs do not bear primary responsibility, but their fanatical Catholicism exacerbated not ameliorated the problem. They were responsible for the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609. The Bourbons arrived at the scene of the crime too late, although they did nothing to repair the damage.
  25. For the case that migrants do have great cultural influence on the prosperity of the countries that they migrate to see:

    http://evonomics.com/do-immigrants-import-their-economic-destiny-garrett-jones/

  26. I’ve long observed that the wealthiest regions of Europe are disproportionately those which were long under Habsburg rule.

    But it doesn’t hold necessarily that Habsburg rule brought wealth to (all or most of ) the regions the dynasty governed.

    When I looked at the map to which you linked, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was Geoffrey Parker’s magisterial “The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659”: https://www.amazon.com/Army-Flanders-Spanish-Road-1567-1659/dp/0521543924

    More about the “Spanish Road”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Road

    A map of the Spanish Road:

    (How does one link images here so that it displays as an image rather than bits of text, anyway?)

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Twinkie,

    (How does one link images here so that it displays as an image rather than bits of text, anyway?)
     
    Think the code strips it out upon detection of an 'img' tag, otherwise this simple one should work (I do this for a living):


    A wise decision I think since...well, I'll let you ponder the possibilities of allowing people to post any image they want...

    Peace.

  27. This map could just as easily be replaced by a map of where individuals who are in the top 1% income level in the world (about ~2 million USD per year) live in Europe.

    These people make over half of the income in a country such as Germany. In other countries, which are the red ones, much fewer of these people make much more than half of the country’s income. And these people usually live in large cities. So the GDP per region concentrates in cities.

    This map is basically reflecting income inequality per country. Red countries have a huge income inequality, while blue ones have less income inequality.

    Another consideration is transportation. In Germany, a wealthy person can live in the middle of nowhere and be promptly in their office in Frankfurt or Munich for work each morning. I know people who commute 100km a day for a mediocre paying job. So the 1%ers can spread out.

    In Spain or Eastern Europe, you have to live near your office, because transportation is terrible in comparison. This concentrates the GDP in the large cities even more.

    • Replies: @Erik Sieven
    you earn more than 99% of the world whit much, much less than 2 million USD per year. Or have I understood this comment wrong? E.g. in Germany you are already part of that 1% with 100.000 Euro as far as I know
  28. @ohwilleke
    Swedes live predominantly in densely populated cities and surrounding areas but have lots of nearly empty territory that skews the national population density. Colorado has similar issues - lots of people in dense cities and lots of vacant or near vacant land.

    Ah. Urban density may fit with their pattern as well, with density beneath the resolution of the GDP map.

  29. @notanon
    Rhine imo

    http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/rivers/rh.jpg

    major arterial rivers -> trade -> competition -> higher average IQ

    causes for exceptions
    - other big rivers (Po, Main)
    - capital cities (same competition reason)
    - oil
    - tax evasion
    - scandinavians

    “Rhine imo”

    That’s close to my opinion. There have been important trade routes along the Rhine connecting either to the Po or the Rhone river valleys for thousands of years. The route is not so long as to be easily disrupted. Its north/south direction increases the variety of produce en route, and connects the Mediterranean and North Sea zones.

    The political unity or disunity in the area seems ephemeral in comparison, but perhaps one advantage of this trade route is that alternatives routes were frequently available so that governments were limited in the rents it could extract.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    In Western Europe there's kind of a southeast to northwest core running in a pretty narrow expanse from northern Italy to lowland Scotland (say Florence to Edinburgh), with the Rhine in the middle.

    The first railway tunnel under the Swiss Alps, the Gotthard, opened back in 1882. I imagine that did a lot for the prosperity of this region.
  30. It is amazing how much fine craftsmanship and precision engineering there is in the region bracketed by southern Germany and northern Italy. BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and Audi on the one hand, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Fiat on the other. With Milan for high fashion and Switzerland in the middle of it all.

  31. @Tim
    This map could just as easily be replaced by a map of where individuals who are in the top 1% income level in the world (about ~2 million USD per year) live in Europe.

    These people make over half of the income in a country such as Germany. In other countries, which are the red ones, much fewer of these people make much more than half of the country's income. And these people usually live in large cities. So the GDP per region concentrates in cities.

    This map is basically reflecting income inequality per country. Red countries have a huge income inequality, while blue ones have less income inequality.

    Another consideration is transportation. In Germany, a wealthy person can live in the middle of nowhere and be promptly in their office in Frankfurt or Munich for work each morning. I know people who commute 100km a day for a mediocre paying job. So the 1%ers can spread out.

    In Spain or Eastern Europe, you have to live near your office, because transportation is terrible in comparison. This concentrates the GDP in the large cities even more.

    you earn more than 99% of the world whit much, much less than 2 million USD per year. Or have I understood this comment wrong? E.g. in Germany you are already part of that 1% with 100.000 Euro as far as I know

    • Replies: @Tim
    You are definitely misunderstanding. I said the GDP per capita not of germany, but of THE WORLD. And it takes about two million USD to be at that level.

    This is an international map, so 1% within a single country is meaningless in this context.
  32. @Twinkie

    I’ve long observed that the wealthiest regions of Europe are disproportionately those which were long under Habsburg rule.
     
    But it doesn't hold necessarily that Habsburg rule brought wealth to (all or most of ) the regions the dynasty governed.

    When I looked at the map to which you linked, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was Geoffrey Parker's magisterial "The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659": https://www.amazon.com/Army-Flanders-Spanish-Road-1567-1659/dp/0521543924

    More about the "Spanish Road": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Road

    A map of the Spanish Road: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/El_Camino_Espa%C3%B1ol.PNG

    (How does one link images here so that it displays as an image rather than bits of text, anyway?)

    Hey Twinkie,

    (How does one link images here so that it displays as an image rather than bits of text, anyway?)

    Think the code strips it out upon detection of an ‘img’ tag, otherwise this simple one should work (I do this for a living):

    A wise decision I think since…well, I’ll let you ponder the possibilities of allowing people to post any image they want…

    Peace.

  33. @Erik Sieven
    you earn more than 99% of the world whit much, much less than 2 million USD per year. Or have I understood this comment wrong? E.g. in Germany you are already part of that 1% with 100.000 Euro as far as I know

    You are definitely misunderstanding. I said the GDP per capita not of germany, but of THE WORLD. And it takes about two million USD to be at that level.

    This is an international map, so 1% within a single country is meaningless in this context.

  34. I think that the correlation with the Habsburgs rule is quite low but indeed, EUROSTAT maps are fun to watch (for us Europeans at any rate). In this case, it would be even more fun to compare it with something similar from 100 years ago or so.

    I don’t believe that such a 1-century old map would be very different at all. Some Eastern European regions would be less red (but probably not a lot, Communism ended already a quarter of a century ago and Eastern Europe was never a wealthy region), France and England would be bluer and Ireland much redder. But that’s about it, I think.

  35. @PV van der Byl
    Re Spain: The Habsburgs were succeeded by the Bourbons in 1700. So maybe Spain isn't entirely the fault of the Habsburgs.

    Spain’s problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition. The Hapsburgs do not bear primary responsibility, but their fanatical Catholicism exacerbated not ameliorated the problem. They were responsible for the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609. The Bourbons arrived at the scene of the crime too late, although they did nothing to repair the damage.

    • Replies: @notanon

    Spain’s problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition.
     
    Spain became top dog in Europe after the expulsion of the Jews.

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Empire

    "Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries."

    Spain's problems trace to too much success led to too much gold.

  36. @Walter Sobchak
    Spain's problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition. The Hapsburgs do not bear primary responsibility, but their fanatical Catholicism exacerbated not ameliorated the problem. They were responsible for the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609. The Bourbons arrived at the scene of the crime too late, although they did nothing to repair the damage.

    Spain’s problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition.

    Spain became top dog in Europe after the expulsion of the Jews.

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Empire

    “Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries.”

    Spain’s problems trace to too much success led to too much gold.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    Spain’s problems trace to too much success led to too much gold.
     
    Silver, more like: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potos%C3%AD#16th_century_silver_boom

    "Golden Age" Spain also had a problem rather akin to the Ming China of the 14th and 15th Centuries. Their comparative advantage at the time was maritime, but the internal political power was held by agricultural elites. So their policies regarding overseas trade was extractive, rather than developmental.
  37. The basis may be as far back as the conquest by the Indo European culture bearing Yamnaya, which was most complete on the north German plain.
    Brendan Simms:

    Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman empire of the German nation, which spanned the present-day Federal Republic, the Low Countries, Switzerland, Bohemia and Moravia and much of northern Italy …,

    Instead of being robbed by the local baron a merchant could move and trade in the Emperor’s vast realm with relatively little trouble. In such a large area of common authority, where poor people were dying out a la Gregory Clarke’s theory as elsewhere , there would be particularly strong selection for attributes useful in business. In modern Germany there are unattended newstands with the papers lying out in the open: people are trusted to pay for what they take. See also http://www.young-germany.de/topic/live/culture-of-sharing-car-sharing-in-germany

    As Wlliam Lind said “German culture is a culture of order” . They proceed in a very efficient manner, and try a different tack every time they try to reorder the rest of Europe to suit them. Merkel’s main policy initiative may be a mirror image of the Third Reich’s one (racial purity) but is still racial nonetheless, and I see it as ideological aggression against democracy. With their latest trick of a soft power blitzkrieg, Germany will be very difficult to stop, what with their pay off/ coopting of the former Hapsburg realms’ elites.

  38. I am struck by the extent of relative impoverishment that exists among the former Soviet Bloc countries, as well as the stark contrast between the former GDR (East Germany) and what was once called West Germany. Note too the contrast between Northern and Southern Italy. From looking at the map, the Habsburg analogy has its limits–there appears to be considerable wealth concentrated in South Central Germany–which was not under Habsburg rule. Perhaps the Lotharingian model may have some, albeit limited, validity. Regardless, it is clear that most of the wealth of Europe is concentrated in Northern and North Central Europe.

  39. Pretty strange empires. Not very scientific, because basically these “empires” have been invented to fit the data which was already in a pattern right? I think there was never such a thing as a Nordic empire. The Netherlands was in the Hapsburg empire one generation and then only under the Spanish kingdom. But clearly it the Netherlands (including coastal Belgium and the neighbouring part of France) was very wealthy hundreds of years earlier. Spain and its territories however do NOT fit the pattern, and how more Hapsburg can you be? And what about Hungary and Bohemia? Does the whole of Germany count as Hapsburg? If not why not given how loosely these definitions work. Switzerland only belonged to the Hapsburgs before they had an empire. Basically the Hapsburg empire here was never all together as a single empire.

  40. Hapsburg Scandinavia, Southern England, Ireland? Not Hapsburg Croatia, Slovenia, Galicia? The map has nothing at all to do with the Hapsburgs. It certainly has something to do with Communism (look at the FDR/DDR difference), and with urbanism (London, Madrid, etc). Try a multivariate regression next time–even economists know how to do these.

  41. @PD Shaw
    "Rhine imo"

    That's close to my opinion. There have been important trade routes along the Rhine connecting either to the Po or the Rhone river valleys for thousands of years. The route is not so long as to be easily disrupted. Its north/south direction increases the variety of produce en route, and connects the Mediterranean and North Sea zones.

    The political unity or disunity in the area seems ephemeral in comparison, but perhaps one advantage of this trade route is that alternatives routes were frequently available so that governments were limited in the rents it could extract.

    In Western Europe there’s kind of a southeast to northwest core running in a pretty narrow expanse from northern Italy to lowland Scotland (say Florence to Edinburgh), with the Rhine in the middle.

    The first railway tunnel under the Swiss Alps, the Gotthard, opened back in 1882. I imagine that did a lot for the prosperity of this region.

    • Replies: @ogunsiron
    Lotharingia is where the money's at.
  42. The Austrian Empire under the Hapsburg’s was relatively well administered, especially compared to its Eastern European neighbors.

    The Austrians weren’t quite as good at war as the Prussians, but the quality of their bureaucracy was much admired.

    For example, perhaps the most popular coin in history, the Maria Theresa thaler, was first minted around 1750 in the Austrian Empire, setting such a new standard for trustworthiness that it was a standard form of currency in much of the Near East, such as Ethiopia, until recently.

  43. @notanon

    Spain’s problems trace to the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and the Inquisition.
     
    Spain became top dog in Europe after the expulsion of the Jews.

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Empire

    "Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries."

    Spain's problems trace to too much success led to too much gold.

    Spain’s problems trace to too much success led to too much gold.

    Silver, more like: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potos%C3%AD#16th_century_silver_boom

    “Golden Age” Spain also had a problem rather akin to the Ming China of the 14th and 15th Centuries. Their comparative advantage at the time was maritime, but the internal political power was held by agricultural elites. So their policies regarding overseas trade was extractive, rather than developmental.

  44. Thing is – *if* the wealth of nations is correct and GDP does map to IQ (modified by a negative factor – call it corruption) then the argument should apply internally also – high wealth regions should generally correlate with high IQ regions.

    *If* that was true then what might cause higher average IQ in certain regions?- among other things competition maybe – what kind of competition might select higher IQ? – competition over trade maybe – if correct then long-term trade routes should have higher average IQ than surrounding regions – so towns along long arterial rivers like Rhine-Rhone and Rhine-Main-Danube might have higher average IQ.

    Same in India/China etc – higher average IQ along big rivers.

  45. @Steve Sailer
    In Western Europe there's kind of a southeast to northwest core running in a pretty narrow expanse from northern Italy to lowland Scotland (say Florence to Edinburgh), with the Rhine in the middle.

    The first railway tunnel under the Swiss Alps, the Gotthard, opened back in 1882. I imagine that did a lot for the prosperity of this region.

    Lotharingia is where the money’s at.

  46. Robert Bartlett’s Making of Europe 950-1350 is a fantastic book about how the “core” of Europe (i.e. Flanders to Lombardy?) colonized the “periphery” (i.e. Baltics, Celtic, Reconquista and Crusades) during that time.

    * http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5275.html
    * http://www.fitzpatrick.fi/files/bartlett.pdf

    The “core” appears to be visible on the map above…

  47. Well you know what I’d say. (Those who don’t should see here ASAP: Clannishness – The Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain – The Unz Review.)

    The reality is that when they is an underlying root cause (in this case, the genetic characteristics of the peoples in question), you will see many correlations. Getting at the cause (fundamentally, gene-culture co-evolution) is key, and not always easy.

  48. It was Woodrow Wilson’s fault to disregard the Brest-Litovsk treaty, which should be reratified.

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