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Colonialism, European Descendants and Democracy


  • Angeles, Luis


This paper advances that the share of European descendants in the population is a major determinant of democracy in former colonial countries. We test this hypothesis using cross-section and panel regressions with 60 developing and developed countries that were once colonies. We find that the share of European descendants can explain more than half of the difference in measures of democracy between the least and the most democratic countries in our sample. We control for other potential determinants of democracy and test for endogeneity bias using instrumental variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Angeles, Luis, 2009. "Colonialism, European Descendants and Democracy," SIRE Discussion Papers 2009-50, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    4. Papaioannou, Elias & Siourounis, Gregorios, 2008. "Economic and social factors driving the third wave of democratization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 365-387, September.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    6. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    8. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A. & Yared, Pierre, 2009. "Reevaluating the modernization hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1043-1058, November.
    9. 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.
    10. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    11. Angeles, Luis, 2007. "Income inequality and colonialism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1155-1176, July.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2005. "Colonialism, Inequality, and Long-Run Paths of Development," NBER Working Papers 11057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Buzasi, Katalin, 2012. "Does colonialism have an impact on the current language situation in Sub-Saharan Africa?," MPRA Paper 42791, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    democracy; European descendants; colonialism.;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • N46 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Latin America; Caribbean


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