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CEP discussion paper

New media, competition and growth: European cities After Gutenberg


This research studies how variations in competition and in media content characterized the use and impact of Gutenberg's printing press technology during the European Renaissance. The research constructs annual firm-level panel data on the publications produced by 7,000+ printing firms operating in over 300 European cities 1454-1600. Evidence on the timing of the premature deaths of firm owner-managers is used to isolate shocks to competition. Firms where owner-managers died experienced large negative shocks to output. However, at the city-level deaths of incumbent managers were associated with significant increases in entrance and with a positive and persistent impact on competition and city output. Variations in city supply induced by heterogeneous manager deaths are used to study the relationship between the diffusion of ideas in print and city growth. A uniquely strong relationship is observed between the new business education literature and local growth. This is consistent with historical research on the transformative impact business education ideas had on commercial practices and European capitalism.


Jeremiah Dittmar

1 August 2015     Paper Number CEPDP1365

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Trade programme.