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Geography, institutions, and the making of comparative development

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  • Raphael A. Auer

Abstract

While the direct impact of geographic endowments on prosperity is present in all countries, in former colonies, geography has also affected colonization policies and, therefore, institutional outcomes. Using non-colonized countries as a control group, I re-examine the theories put forward by La Porta et al. (J Law Econ Org 15(1):222–279, 1999 and Acemoglu et al. (Am Econ Rev 91(5), 1369–1401, 2001 . I find strong support for both theories, but also evidence that the authors’ estimates of the impact of colonization on institutions and growth are biased, since they confound the effect of the historical determinants of institutions with the direct impact of geographic endowments on development. In a baseline estimation, I find that the approach of Acemoglu et al. ( 2001 ) overestimates the importance of institutions for economic growth by 28 %, as a country’s natural disease environment affected settler mortality during colonization and also has a direct impact on prosperity. The approach of La Porta et al. ( 1999 ) underestimates the importance of colonization-imposed legal origin for institutional development by 63 %, as Britain tended to colonize countries that are remote from Europe and thus suffer from low access to international markets. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael A. Auer, 2013. "Geography, institutions, and the making of comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 179-215, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:18:y:2013:i:2:p:179-215
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-013-9087-z
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    3. Bennett, Daniel L. & Faria, Hugo J. & Gwartney, James D. & Morales, Daniel R., 2017. "Economic Institutions and Comparative Economic Development: A Post-Colonial Perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 503-519.
    4. Casey, Gregory & Klemp, Marc, 2016. "Instrumental Variables in the Long Run," MPRA Paper 68696, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Demir, Firat, 2016. "Effects of FDI Flows on Institutional Development: Does It Matter Where the Investors are from?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 341-359.
    6. Tamura, Robert & Dwyer, Jerry & Devereux, John & Baier, Scott, 2019. "Economic growth in the long run," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 1-35.
    7. Arhan Ertan & Louis Putterman & Martin Fiszbein, 2012. "Determinants and Economic Consequences of Colonization: A Global Analysis," Working Papers 2012-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    8. Roberto Ricciuti & Adelaide Baronchelli, 2018. "Climate change, rice production, and migration in Vietnamese households," WIDER Working Paper Series 86, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Thomas K.J. McDermott, 2013. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the origins of comparative development: A finite mixture model approach," GRI Working Papers 130, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    10. Rok Spruk & Mitja Kovac, 2018. "Inefficient Growth," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 9(2).
    11. Guanchun Liu & Chien-Chiang Lee & Yuanyuan Liu, 2020. "Growth path heterogeneity across provincial economies in China: the role of geography versus institutions," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 59(2), pages 503-546, August.
    12. Aldashev, Gani & Zanarone, Giorgio, 2017. "Endogenous enforcement institutions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 49-64.
    13. Ertan, Arhan & Fiszbein, Martin & Putterman, Louis, 2016. "Who was colonized and when? A cross-country analysis of determinants," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 165-184.
    14. Eva Mª Buitrago & Mª Ángeles Caraballo & José L. Roldán, 2019. "Do Tolerant Societies Demand Better Institutions?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 143(3), pages 1161-1184, June.
    15. Valentina A Assenova & Matthew Regele, 2017. "Revisiting the effect of colonial institutions on comparative economic development," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(5), pages 1-16, May.
    16. Daniel L. Bennett & Hugo J. Faria & James D. Gwartney & Hugo M. Montesinos-Yufa & Daniel R. Morales & Carlos E. Navarro, 2017. "Evidence on economic versus political institutions as determinants of development," Working Papers 2017-04, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    17. Desbordes, Rodolphe, 2021. "Spatial dynamics of major infectious diseases outbreaks: A global empirical assessment," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Growth; Institutions; Geography; Comparative development; Colonialism; O11; P16; P51; R11; N50; F54;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism

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