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Why Countries Transition? The Case of Brazil, 1964–2016


  • Lee J. Alston

    () (Indiana University; NBER;)

  • Marcus André Melo

    (University of Pernambuco)

  • Bernardo Mueller

    (University of Brasilia)

  • Carlos Pereira

    (School of Public and Business Administration (EBAPE), Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV))


Abstract Economic and political development are contextual. Nevertheless, there are some general elements in the process of institutional persistence and change. We present a framework that goes beyond the standard institutional analysis and adds the concepts of beliefs, leadership, and windows of opportunities in a dynamic process of change. Beliefs of the dominant network may lead countries to choose institutions that do not promote growth and prosperity, even in cases where those in power seek to pursue the common good. Leadership during windows of opportunity helps to determine when, how, and why beliefs change over time. Although each of these concepts alone is not novel in the literature, our major contribution is the evolutionary dynamic. To illustrate the framework, we flesh out the dynamics with a case study of Brazil from 1964 to 2016.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee J. Alston & Marcus André Melo & Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira, 2016. "Why Countries Transition? The Case of Brazil, 1964–2016," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 197-224, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:44:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-016-9498-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s11293-016-9498-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Managing with Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1169-1208.
    2. McDonough, Peter, 1981. "Developmental Priorities among Brazilian Elites," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 535-559, April.
    3. Lee J. Alston & Marcus André Melo & Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira, 2016. "Brazil in Transition: Beliefs, Leadership, and Institutional Change," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10745, December.
    4. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, December.
    5. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change," Introductory Chapters,in: Understanding the Process of Economic Change Princeton University Press.
    6. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Matthew O. Jackson, 2015. "History, Expectations, and Leadership in the Evolution of Social Norms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 423-456.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:78:y:1984:i:01:p:1-16_25 is not listed on IDEAS
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