IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth

  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Johnson, Simon
  • Robinson, James A

This Paper develops the empirical and theoretical case that differences in economic institutions are the fundamental cause of differences in economic development. We first document the empirical importance of institutions by focusing on two ‘quasi-natural experiments’ in history, the division of Korea into two parts with very different economic institutions and the colonization of much of the world by European powers starting in the fifteenth century. We then develop the basic outline of a framework for thinking about why economic institutions differ across countries. Economic institutions determine the incentives of and the constraints on economic actors, and shape economic outcomes. As such, they are social decisions, chosen for their consequences. Because different groups and individuals typically benefit from different economic institutions, there is generally a conflict over these social choices, ultimately resolved in favour of groups with greater political power. The distribution of political power in society is in turn determined by political institutions and the distribution of resources. Political institutions allocate de jure political power, while groups with greater economic might typically possess greater de facto political power. We therefore view the appropriate theoretical framework as a dynamic one with political institutions and the distribution of resources as the state variables. These variables themselves change over time because prevailing economic institutions affect the distribution of resources, and because groups with de facto political power today strive to change political institutions in order to increase their de jure political power in the future. Economic institutions encouraging economic growth emerge when political institutions allocate power to groups with interests in broad-based property rights enforcement, when they create effective constraints on power-holders, and when there are relatively few rents to be captured by power-holders. We illustrate the assumptions, the workings and the implications of this framework using a number of historical examples.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4458
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4458.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4458
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.

Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Allen, Robert C, 1982. "The Efficiency and Distributional Consequences of Eighteenth Century Enclosures," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 937-53, December.
  2. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
  3. 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.
  4. Freudenberger, Herman, 1967. "State Intervention as an Obstacle to Economic Growth in the Habsburg Monarchy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(04), pages 493-509, December.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2002. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  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. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Thaicharoen, Yunyong, 2002. "Institutional Causes, Macroeconomic Symptoms: Volatility, Crises and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 3575, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Durlauf,S.N. & Fafchamps,M., 2003. "Empirical studies of social capital : a critical survey," Working papers 12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  13. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1768, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    • Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    • La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1998. "Law and Finance," Scholarly Articles 3451310, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Lindert, Peter H., 2000. "Three centuries of inequality in Britain and America," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 167-216 Elsevier.
  15. David Romer, 1997. "Misconceptions and Political Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 73, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  17. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
  18. James A. Robinson, 1998. "Theories of “bad policy”," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 1-46.
  19. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  20. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  21. Bairoch, Paul, 1995. "Economics and World History," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226034638.
  22. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
  24. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "The Form of Property Rights: Oligarchic vs. Democratic Societies," NBER Working Papers 10037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  26. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," NBER Working Papers 8831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon H. & Robinson, James A., 2003. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutioanl Change and Economic Growth," Working papers 4269-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  28. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  29. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
  30. David Cass, 1965. "Optimum Growth in an Aggregative Model of Capital Accumulation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 233-240.
  31. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1003-26, October.
  33. Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1996. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 301-329.
  34. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
  35. Robert J. Barro & Rachel McCleary, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Tropical Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 8119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
  38. Daron Acemoglu, 1997. "Training and Innovation in an Imperfect Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 445-464.
  39. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, March.
  40. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, December.
  41. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
  42. Farrell, Joseph, 1987. "Information and the Coase Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1sc2r800, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  43. 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.
  44. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  45. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  46. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  47. Veitch, John M., 1986. "Repudiations and Confiscations by the Medieval State," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 31-36, March.
  48. 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.
  49. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1995. "Institutions and Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Indicators," MPRA Paper 23118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4458. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.