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Under the Thumb of History? Political Institutions and the Scope for Action

Author

Listed:
  • Abhijit V. Banerjee

    (Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

  • Esther Duflo

    () (Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

Abstract

This article discusses the two leading views of history and political institutions. For some scholars, institutions are mainly products of historical logic, whereas for others, accidents, leaders, and decisions have a significant impact. We argue that although there is clear evidence that history matters and has long-term effects, there are not enough data to help us distinguish between the two views. Faced with this uncertainty, what is a social scientist to do? We argue that given the possibility that policy decisions indeed make a difference, it makes sense to assume they do and to try to improve policy making.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2014. "Under the Thumb of History? Political Institutions and the Scope for Action," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 951-971, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:6:y:2014:p:951-971
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Daniel L. & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "Government Expropriation Increases Economic Growth and Racial Inequality: Evidence from Eminent Domain," IAST Working Papers 16-46, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    2. Muhammad Haseeb & Kate Vyborny, 2016. "Imposing institutions: Evidence from cash transfer reform in Pakistan," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-36, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    political economy; persistence; development;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth

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