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This paper exploits cross-country variation in the degree of geographical isolation, prior to the advent of sea-faring and airborne transportation technologies, to examine its impact on the course of economic development across the globe. The empirical investigation establishes that prehistoric geographical isolation has generated a persistent benefecial effect on the process of development and contributed to the contemporary variation in the standard of living across countries. Existing theories of comparative development have highlighted a variety of proximate and ultimate factors underlying some of the vast inequities in living standards across the globe.
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