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Geography and institutions: Plausible and implausible linkages

  • Ola Olsson


In recent years, empirical investigations have shown that various aspects of physical geography are closely related to the quality of a country’s economic institutions. For instance, distance from the equator in latitude degrees is positively correlated to both institutional quality and to levels of economic development. In order to reach a better understanding for this type of regularities, this article reviews the growing empirical literature on geography and institutions, as well as a large body of older and newer theoretical works on the social impacts of geography. It is argued that the most plausible candidates for explaining the broadest cross-continental variance in institutional quality are those focusing on historical differences in biogeographical potential for early agriculture and on the importance of disease geography for European colonization strategy. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2005

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (December)
Pages: 167-194

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jeczfn:v:10:y:2005:i:1:p:167-194
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  1. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
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  4. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2005. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," 2005 Meeting Papers 24, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  8. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Tropical Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 8119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  10. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:2:p:612-645 is not listed on IDEAS
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