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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Simon Johnson
  • James A. Robinson

Abstract

We exploit differences in European mortality rates to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and were more likely to set up extractive institutions. These institutions persisted to the present. Exploiting differences in European mortality rates as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capita. Once the effect of institutions is controlled for, countries in Africa or those closer to the equator do not have lower incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:5:p:1369-1401
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.5.1369
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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. Acemoglu, Daron & Verdier, Thierry, 1998. "Property Rights, Corruption and the Allocation of Talent: A General Equilibrium Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1381-1403, September.
    3. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 6849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
    5. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
    6. Frieden, Jeffry A., 1994. "International investment and colonial control: a new interpretation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 559-593, September.
    7. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    8. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
    9. Grier, Robin M, 1999. "Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 317-335, March.
    10. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
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    12. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    13. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-937, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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    1. Diskussion:Kolonialismus/Archiv/1 in Wikipedia German ne '')
    2. The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation (AER 2001) in ReplicationWiki

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