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Institutions versus Policies: A Tale of Two Islands

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  • Henry, Peter B.

    (Stanford University)

  • Miller, Conrad

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

Recent work emphasizes the primacy of differences in countries' colonially-bequeathed property rights and legal systems for explaining differences in their subsequent economic development. Barbados and Jamaica provide a striking counter example to this long-run view of income determination. Both countries inherited property rights and legal institutions from their English colonial masters yet experienced starkly different growth trajectories in the aftermath of independence. From 1960 to 2002, Barbados' GDP per capita grew roughly three times as fast as Jamaica's. Consequently, the income gap between Barbados and Jamaica is now almost five times larger than at the time of independence. Since their property rights and legal systems are virtually identical, recent theories of development cannot explain the divergence between Barbados and Jamaica. Differences in macroeconomic policy choices, not differences in institutions, account for the heterogeneous growth experiences of these two Caribbean nations.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 2012.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2012

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Scholarly Articles 2962610, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
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Cited by:
  1. Anusha Chari & Peter Blair Henry, 2014. "Two Tales of Adjustment: East Asian Lessons for European Growth," Working Papers 14-04, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  2. Kerekes, Monika, 2012. "Growth miracles and failures in a Markov switching classification model of growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 167-177.
  3. Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2011. "Economics, History, and Causation," NBER Working Papers 16678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Douglas A. Irwin & Richard Sylla, 2010. "The Significance of the Founding Choices: Editors’ Introduction," NBER Chapters, in: Founding Choices: American Economic Policy in the 1790s, pages 1-21 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Morgan, Horatio M., 2013. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: New Lessons from Small Open Economies," MPRA Paper 49842, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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