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Institutions and Development: The Interaction Between Trade Regime and Political System

  • Josef Falkinger
  • Volker Grossmann

This paper argues that openness to goods trade in combination with an unequal distribution of political power has been a major determinant of the comparatively slow development of resource- or land-abundant regions like South America and the Caribbean in the nineteenth century. We develop a two-sector general equilibrium model with a tax-financed public sector, and show that in a feudal society (dominated by landed elites) productivity-enhancing public investments like the provision of schooling are typically lower in an open than in a closed economy. Moreover, we find that, under openness to trade, development is faster in a democratic system. We also endogenize the trade regime and demonstrate that, in political equilibrium, a land-abundant and landowner dominated economy supports openness to trade. Finally, we discuss empirical evidence which strongly supports our basic hypotheses.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economic Growth.

Volume (Year): 10 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 231-272

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:10:y:2005:i:3:p:231-272
DOI: 10.1007/s10887-005-3534-4
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