The partition of British India in 1947 into India and Pakistan led to the largest
episode of mass displacement in recorded history. I use refugee presence by 1951 as a measure for the intensity of displacement in Pakistan, and tehsil level data on literacy and urbanization between 1901 and 1998, to show that areas where displacement was more severe experienced faster growth in urbanization and saw greater improvements in literacy in the long-run.
Evidence from Pakistan through Partition
I also show that the spatial distribution of refugees is uncorrelated with trends in literacy, urbanization, and local public infrastructure for an extended period prior to 1947; thus providing evidence that the observed effects are not solely explained by the selective movement of refugees into areas pre-disposed to greater economic development. I provide evidence that the lasting impacts of displacement are attributable to the permanent change it caused in the educational profile and occupational structure of affected areas and to the relocation of economic activity from neighbouring areas.