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The European Origins of Economic Development

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  • William Easterly
  • Ross Levine

Abstract

Although a large literature argues that European settlement outside of Europe shaped institutional, educational, technological, cultural, and economic outcomes, researchers have been unable to directly assess these predictions because of an absence of data on colonial European settlement. In this paper, we construct a new database on the European share of the population during colonization and examine its association with the level of economic development today. We find: (1) a strong and uniformly positive relationship between colonial European settlement and development, (2) a stronger relationship between colonial European settlement and economic development today than between development today and the proportion of the population of European descent today; and (3) no evidence that the positive relationship between colonial European settlement and economic development diminishes or becomes negative at very low levels of colonial European settlement, contradicting a large literature that focuses on the enduring adverse effects of small European settlements creating extractive institutions. The most plausible explanation of our findings is that any adverse effect of extractive institutions associated with minority European settlement was more than offset by other things the European settlers brought with them, such as human capital and technology.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18162.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18162

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References

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  1. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2008. "Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions and the Great Divergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2005. "Land Inequality and the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions," Development and Comp Systems 0502018, EconWPA.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  5. Nunn, Nathan, 2008. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," Scholarly Articles 3710252, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Kleibergen, F.R. & Paap, R., 2003. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2003-01, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
  7. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "History Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," Working Papers id:2811, eSocialSciences.
  8. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2008. "Post-1500 Population Flows and the Long Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 14448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: an empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility," Staff Report 361, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. " States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
  11. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "Das Human Kapital: A Theory of the Demise of the Class Structure," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410003, EconWPA.
  12. Hibbs Jr., Douglas A. & Olsson, Ola, 2003. "Geography, Biogeography and Why Some Countries are Rich and Others Poor," Working Papers in Economics 105, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 15 Jan 2004.
  13. Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Presidential Address Institutions and Culture," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 255-294, 04-05.
  14. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. European colonisation: good or bad?
    by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2012-07-10 16:30:07
  2. European colonization was the root to present economic development
    by Inaki Villanueva in Applied economist on 2012-08-14 19:27:00
  3. The deep roots of economic development
    by Jason Collins in Evolving Economics on 2013-07-29 12:07:05
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Cited by:
  1. Gordon C. McCord & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2013. "Development, Structure, and Transformation: Some Evidence on Comparative Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 19512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alexandre Rands Barros, 2010. "Historical Origins of Brazilian Relative Backwardness," Working Papers 64, Datamétrica Consultoria Econômica, revised 2012.
  3. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2013. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 162, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  4. Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2013. "The Transmission of Democracy: From the Village to the Nation-State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 86-92, May.
  5. de Carvalho Filho, Irineu & Monasterio, Leonardo M, 2011. "Immigration and the origins of regional inequality: Government-sponsored European migration to Southern Brazil before World War I," MPRA Paper 27954, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Ideen A. Riahi, 2013. "Colonization and Genetics of Comparative Development," Discussion Papers dp13-11, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, revised 29 Oct 2013.
  7. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
  8. repec:cge:warwcg:161 is not listed on IDEAS

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