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Isolated Capital Cities and Misgovernance: Theory and Evidence

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  • Campante, Filipe
  • Do, Quoc-Anh
  • Guimarães, Bernardo

Abstract

Motivated by a novel stylized fact -- countries with isolated capital cities display worse quality of governance -- we provide a framework of endogenous institutional choice based on the idea that elites are constrained by the threat of rebellion, and that this threat is rendered less effective by distance from the seat of political power. In established democracies, the threat of insurgencies is not a binding constraint, and the model predicts no correlation between isolated capitals and misgovernance. In contrast, a correlation emerges in equilibrium in the case of autocracies. Causality runs both ways: broader power sharing (associated with better governance) means that any rents have to be shared more broadly, hence the elite has less of an incentive to protect its position by isolating the capital city; conversely, a more isolated capital city allows the elite to appropriate a larger share of output, so the costs of better governance for the elite, in terms of rents that would have to be shared, are larger. We show evidence that this pattern holds true robustly in the data. We also show that isolated capitals are associated with less power sharing, a larger income premium enjoyed by capital city inhabitants, and lower levels of military spending by ruling elites, as predicted by the theory.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9284.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9284

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Keywords: Capital Cities; Democracy; Governance; Institutions; Insurgencies; Population Concentration; Power sharing;

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References

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  1. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded & Özak, Ömer, 2009. "Isolation and Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 7531, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Campante, Filipe R. & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2012. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from US States," Working Paper Series rwp12-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth without governance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2928, The World Bank.
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  6. Guimarães, Bernardo & Sheedy, Kevin D., 2012. "A Model of Equilibrium Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 8855, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Filipe Campante & Edward L. Glaeser, 2009. "Yet Another Tale of Two Cities: Buenos Aires and Chicago," NBER Working Papers 15104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Campante, Filipe Robin & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2009. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration: Axiomatic Approach with an Application to Population and Capital Cities," Scholarly Articles 4481653, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  11. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2009. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," NBER Working Papers 14918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Qi Li & Jeffrey Scott Racine, 2006. "Nonparametric Econometrics: Theory and Practice," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8355.
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Cited by:
  1. Filipe R Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2013. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption Evidence from US States: Evidence from US States," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2013-01, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
  2. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2013. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from US States," NBER Working Papers 19027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Shaun Larcom & Mare Sarr & Tim Willems, 2014. "Dictators Walking the Mogadishu Line: How Men Become Monsters and Monsters Become Men," HiCN Working Papers 176, Households in Conflict Network.

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