IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Institutional Explanations of Economic Development: the Role of Precious Metals


  • Elissaios Papyrakis

    (IVM, Vrije Universiteit)

  • Reyer Gerlagh

    (IVM, Vrije Universiteit)


Recent research has emphasized the influence of colonization on the institutional development and economic performance in former European colonies. Where European colonizers settled, they replicated the investment-conducive institutions found at home. It has been argued that a harsh disease environment and a highly urbanized native population worked against colonization. We show evidence for another significant element explaining the endogenous character of colonization strategies and the formation of institutions. We find the presence of precious metals, gold and silver, to imply an increase in settlements, and an improvement in institutional quality, even when correcting for settlements. Highly valued gold and silver reserves attracted Europeans in large numbers and resulted in an institutional upgrade of mineral-rich areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Elissaios Papyrakis & Reyer Gerlagh, 2005. "Institutional Explanations of Economic Development: the Role of Precious Metals," Working Papers 2005.131, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2005.131

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Precious metals; Institutions; Economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Q33 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Resource Booms (Dutch Disease)

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2005.131. 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: (barbara racah). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.