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Geography, European Settlements and Compared Development in the Americas

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  • Luís Vaz Silva

    (University College of Dublin)

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    Abstract

    The interplay between factor endowments, institutional development and economic performance has received considerable attention in recent years. This paper exploits the importance of geographic factors and institutional structures for explaining patterns of settlement and examines how these influenced growth outcomes. I find evidence that prospective European migrants preferred to settle in regions with favourable natural endowments and institutional packages designed to attract them. These settlers not only benefited from a growth-inducing institutional framework but also contributed actively to its quality in a mutually reinforcing relationship. Countries that competed for migrants achieved higher income levels through institutional development and better provision of public goods. Finally, my findings show that the link between European migrants and economic development is not linear, as the positive effects of attracting European settlers on institutions and public goods are set off only when European populations grow to outnumber other ethnic groups. Countries where European migrants remained a minority were more likely to develop institutions that advantaged a small elite and eliminated opportunities for the bulk of the population.

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    File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/research/papers/2005/WP05.18.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2005
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200518.

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    Length: 56 pages
    Date of creation: 19 Nov 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200518

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    1. Alessandra Casella & James E. Rauch, 1997. "Anonymous Market and Group Ties in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 6186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Sule Ozler & Nouriel Roubini & Phillip Swagel, 1992. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chih Ming Tan, 2005. "No One True Path: Uncovering the Interplay between Geography, Institutions, and Fractionalization in Economic Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0512, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    4. 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.
    5. Nugent, Jeffrey B & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Are Endowments Fate?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3206, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-50, November.
    7. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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