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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
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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. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Legal Origins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1193-1229.
  5. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 265, OECD Publishing.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-1150, July.
  10. 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.
  11. Berkowitz, Daniel & Pistor, Katharina & Richard, Jean-Francois, 2003. "Economic development, legality, and the transplant effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 165-195, February.
  12. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-586, June.
  13. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  14. 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.
  15. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law, endowments, and finance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 137-181, November.
  16. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
  17. repec:hrv:faseco:30747190 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. World Bank, 2003. "World Development Indicators 2003," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13920, October.
  19. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  20. repec:rus:hseeco:72153 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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.
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