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Unbundling Institutions

Listed author(s):
  • 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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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/432166
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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/432166
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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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. Djankov, Simeon & Glaeser, Edward & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The new comparative economics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 595-619, December.
  2. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
  3. 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.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law, endowments, and finance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 137-181, November.
  6. 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.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
  8. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2001. "The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century," NBER Working Papers 8178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1788, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirguc-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2002. "Law and Finance: why Does Legal Origin Matter?," NBER Working Papers 9379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-586, June.
  12. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Shleifer, Andrei, 2002. "Legal Origins," Scholarly Articles 29408124, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Daniel Berkowitz & Katharina Pistor & Jean-Francois Richard, 2000. "Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect," CID Working Papers 39, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  14. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio LopezdeSilanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," NBER Working Papers 7892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. repec:hrv:faseco:30747190 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. repec:rus:hseeco:72153 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. World Bank, 2003. "World Development Indicators 2003," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13920, April.
  20. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
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