Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson are wrong because labour productivity in agriculture is a better explanation of European settlement patterns than settler mortality. Europeans only wanted to settle regions where they could make a decent living from agriculture. 1/
In the 19th c, these regions became rich thanks to globalisation, which allowed commercial agriculture to take off thanks to improved terms of trade. That explains the correlation noted by AJR between the amount of land available in 1500 and the level of income in the 20th c. 2/
There was no 'reversal of fortune'. It was just that globalisation allowed underutilised land resources to be brought into production, whereas in the land-scarce regions that wasn't possible. More details here: 3/
Also more here: 4/
And here: 5/
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