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Toward a Theory of Regulation for Developing Countries: Following Jean-Jacques Laffont's Lead

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  • Antonio Estache
  • Liam Wren-Lewis

Abstract

The efficient operation and expansion of infrastructures in developing countries is crucial for growth and poverty reduction. However, recent reforms aimed at improving the performance of these sectors have had limited success. Evidence suggests that, in many instances, this was because the traditional regulatory theory relied on by policymakers was not suitable for the institutional context in developing countries. This article surveys more recent theoretical work focusing on problems with regulation in these countries. At the heart of the survey is the work of Jean-Jacques Laffont, who, in the last decade of his life, set about developing a theoretical framework for regulation in developing countries. We consider the implications of his work, which focused on the key institutional limitations faced in developing countries. We then discuss where experience suggests that there are important omissions from this modeling, bringing in extensions and alternative approaches pursued by other authors. We conclude by summarizing the key ways in which regulatory policy will be different when institutions are weak. Overall, we find that an understanding of the institutional context and its implications are crucial when designing a regulatory framework for developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Estache & Liam Wren-Lewis, 2009. "Toward a Theory of Regulation for Developing Countries: Following Jean-Jacques Laffont's Lead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 729-770, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:47:y:2009:i:3:p:729-70
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.47.3.729
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    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development

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