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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment

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  • David Y. Albouy

Abstract

Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson's (2001) seminal article argues property-rights institutions powerfully affect national income, using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers to instrument capital expropriation risk. However, 36 of the 64 countries in the sample are assigned mortality rates from other countries, often based on mistaken or conflicting evidence. Also, incomparable mortality rates from populations of laborers, bishops, and soldiers--often on campaign--are combined in a manner that favors the hypothesis. When these data issues are controlled for, the relationship between mortality and expropriation risk lacks robustness, and instrumental-variable estimates become unreliable, often with infinite confidence intervals. (JEL D02, E23, F54, I12, N40, O43, P14)

Suggested Citation

  • David Y. Albouy, 2012. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 3059-3076, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:6:p:3059-76
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    2. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    3. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    4. Fails, Matthew D. & Krieckhaus, Jonathan, 2010. "Colonialism, Property Rights and the Modern World Income Distribution," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(03), pages 487-508, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Jean-Marie Dufour, 1997. "Some Impossibility Theorems in Econometrics with Applications to Structural and Dynamic Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1365-1388, November.
    7. Froot, Kenneth A., 1989. "Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation with Cross-Sectional Dependence and Heteroskedasticity in Financial Data," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 333-355, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P14 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Property Rights

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