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Institutional Comparative Statics

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  • James A. Robinson
  • Ragnar Torvik

Abstract

Why was the Black Death followed by the decline of serfdom in Western Europe but its' intensification in Eastern Europe? What explains why involvement in Atlantic trade in the Early Modern period was positively correlated with economic growth in Britain but negatively correlated in Spain? Why did frontier expansion in the 19th Century Americas go along with economic growth in the United States and economic decline in Latin America? Why do natural resource booms seem to stimulate growth in some countries, but lead to a 'curse' in others, and why does foreign aid sometimes seem to encourage, other times impede economic growth? In this paper we argue that the response of economies to shocks or innovations in economic opportunities depends on the nature of institutions. When institutions are strong, new opportunities or windfalls can have positive effects. But when institutions are weak they can have negative effects. We present a simple model to illustrate how comparative statics are conditional on the nature of institutions and show how this perspective helps to unify a large number of historical episodes and empirical studies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17106.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Publication status: published as “Instituti onal Comparative Statics” (2013) ( joint with Ragnar Torvik, University of Trondheim) Daron Acemoglu, Manuel Arellano and Eddie Dekel eds. Advances in Economics and Econometrics : Tenth World Congress, Volume II, Applied Economics , New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 97 - 134.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17106

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  8. James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik & Thierry Verdier, 2003. "Politcal Foundations of the Resource Curse," DELTA Working Papers 2003-33, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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  13. Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2000. "Rent-seeking and resource booms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 527-542, April.
  14. Opp, Marcus M. & Sonnenschein, Hugo F. & Tombazos, Christis G., 2009. "Rybczynski's Theorem in the Heckscher-Ohlin World -- Anything Goes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 137-142, September.
  15. Jonathan Conning, 2004. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom and the Roads to Agrarian Capitalism: Domar's Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 401, Hunter College Department of Economics.
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