Did History Breed Inequality? Colonial Factor Endowments and Modern Income Distribution
AbstractWe explore the relation between historical population density in former colonies and modern income distribution. A theoretical model highlights the potentially opposing effects of native population density on incentives for colonists to conquer or settle in new territories. While an abundant supply of native labor is an “asset” that drives up land rents, it is also a “liability” that makes land acquisition by colonists more difficult and reduces returns to peacable migration. Conflicts over land, sowing the seeds for inequality by creating a landed élite living off rents, are especially likely to emerge for intermediate native population densities. Results are confirmed by detailed empirical tests highlighting the curvilinear relationship between native population density and modern income inequality. Finally, using population density as an instrument for inequality in the former colonies, we demonstrate that there is no causal relationship running from income distribution to economic growth.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich in its series CER-ETH Economics working paper series with number 08/86.
Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
inequality; growth; factor endowments; population density; conflict; colonization;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
- N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-07-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2008-07-20 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-MIG-2008-07-20 (Economics of Human Migration)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002.
"Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996.
"A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality,"
World Bank Economic Review,
World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
- Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
- Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
- Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2006. "De Facto Political Power and Institutional Persistence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 325-330, May.
- Bourguignon, F. & Verdier, T., 1997.
"Oligarchy, Democracy, Inequality and Growth,"
DELTA Working Papers
97-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
- Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
- Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002.
"Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies,"
JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA,
LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
- Stanley L Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economics," NBER Working Papers 9259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1995.
"Inequality and Development: The Role of Dualism,"
DELTA Working Papers
95-32, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004.
"Do Institutions Cause Growth?,"
Journal of Economic Growth,
Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
- Bruce E. Hansen, 1996.
"Sample Splitting and Threshold Estimation,"
Boston College Working Papers in Economics
319., Boston College Department of Economics, revised 12 May 1998.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
NBER Working Papers
3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
- William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002.
"Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development,"
15, Center for Global Development.
- Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
- William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001.
"The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
- 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.
- Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
- James Fenske, 2012.
"African polygamy: Past and present,"
CSAE Working Paper Series
2012-20, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
- Dobado González, Rafael & García Montero, Héctor, 2010.
"Colonial Origins of Inequality in Hispanic America? Some Reflections Based on New Empirical Evidence,"
Revista de Historia Económica,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 253-277, September.
- Dobado González, Rafael / R & García Montero, Héctor / H, 2010. "Colonial Origins of Inequality in Hispanic America? Some reflections based on new empirical evidence," MPRA Paper 28738, University Library of Munich, Germany.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.