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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data

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  • Albouy, David

Abstract

In a seminal contribution, Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001) evaluate the effect of property rights institutions on national income using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers as an instrument for the risk of capital expropriation. Returning to their original sources, I find the settler mortality data suffer from a number of inconsistencies, comparability problems, and questionable geographic assignments. When various methods are used to deal with these issues, the first-stage relationship between mortality and expropriation risk is no longer robust and typically insignificant. Consequently instrumental variable estimates are unreliable and suffer from weak instrument pathologies.

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Paper provided by Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series with number qt8kt576x8.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ciders:qt8kt576x8

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Keywords: economic history; development; institutions; growth; colonialism; property rights; European settlement; mortality; measurement error; weak instrument;

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  1. Nelson, C.R. & Startz, R. & Zivot, E., 1996. "Valid Confidence Intervals and Inference in the Presence of Weak Instruments," Working Papers 96-15, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  2. Charles R. Nelson & Richard Startz, 1988. "Some Further Results on the Exact Small Sample Properties of the Instrumental Variable Estimator," NBER Technical Working Papers 0068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2001. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262232197, December.
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  5. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Marcelo J. Moreira, 2003. "A General Theory of Hypothesis Testing in the Simultaneous Equations Model," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1992, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Jean-Marie Dufour, 1997. "Some Impossibility Theorems in Econometrics with Applications to Structural and Dynamic Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1365-1388, November.
  8. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  9. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  11. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
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  1. Taubes on the Weakness of Observational Studies, and a Methodological Rant
    by Marc F. Bellemare in Marc f. bellemare on 2012-01-10 10:00:48
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