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Unbundling Institutions

  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Simon Johnson

This paper evaluates the importance of property rights institutions', which protect citizens against expropriation by the government and powerful elites, and contracting institutions', which enable private contracts between citizens. We exploit exogenous variation in both types of institutions driven by colonial history, and document strong first-stage relationships between property rights institutions and the determinants of European colonization (settler mortality and population density before colonization), and between contracting institutions and the identity of the colonizing power. Using this instrumental variables strategy, we find that property rights institutions have a first-order effect on long-run economic growth, investment, and financial development. Contracting institutions appear to matter only for the form of financial intermediation. A possible interpretation for this pattern is that individuals often find ways of altering the terms of their formal and informal contracts to avoid the adverse effects of contracting institutions but are unable to do so against the risk of expropriation.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 113 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 949-995

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:113:y:2005:i:5:p:949-995
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law and finance: why does legal origin matter?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 653-675, December.
  2. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  3. Andrei Shleifer & Simeon Djankov & Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez de Silanes, 2003. "The New Comparative Economics," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm355, Yale School of Management.
  4. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirguc-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2002. "Law, Endowment, and Finance," NBER Working Papers 9089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2001. "The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century," CRSP working papers 526, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation Of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37, February.
  8. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1996. "Financial Dependence and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross, 2002. "Industry growth and capital allocation:*1: does having a market- or bank-based system matter?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 147-180, May.
  10. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Working Paper 19443, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Legal Origins," NBER Working Papers 8272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Daniel Berkowitz & Katharina Pistor & Jean-Francois Richard, 2000. "Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 308, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 4274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:rus:hseeco:72153 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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