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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data

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  • Albouy, David

Abstract

In a seminal contribution, Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001) evaluate the effect of property rights institutions on national income using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers as an instrument for the risk of capital expropriation. Returning to their original sources, I find the settler mortality data suffer from a number of inconsistencies, comparability problems, and questionable geographic assignments. When various methods are used to deal with these issues, the first-stage relationship between mortality and expropriation risk is no longer robust and typically insignificant. Consequently instrumental variable estimates are unreliable and suffer from weak instrument pathologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Albouy, David, 2006. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt8kt576x8, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ciders:qt8kt576x8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
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    Keywords

    economic history; development; institutions; growth; colonialism; property rights; European settlement; mortality; measurement error; weak instrument;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems

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