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Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment

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  • Raghuram G. Rajan

Abstract

Initial inequality in endowments and opportunities, together with low average levels of endowments, can create constituencies in a society that combine to paralyze reforms, even though the status quo hurts them collectively. Each constituency prefers reforms that expand its opportunities, but in an unequal society, this will typically hurt another constituency's rents. Competitive rent preservation ensures no comprehensive reform path may command broad support. Though the initial conditions may well be a legacy of the colonial past, persistence does not require the presence of coercive political institutions, perhaps one reason why underdevelopment has survived independence and democratization. Instead, the roots of underdevelopment may lie in the natural tendency towards rent preservation in a divided society.

Suggested Citation

  • Raghuram G. Rajan, 2006. "Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 12093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12093
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    Cited by:

    1. M. Idrees Khawaja & Sajawal Khan, 2009. "Reforming Institutions: Where to Begin?," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 48(3), pages 241-267.
    2. Stevens, Paul & Dietsche, Evelyn, 2008. "Resource curse: An analysis of causes, experiences and possible ways forward," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 56-65, January.
    3. Berg, Andrew & Ostry, Jonathan D. & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2012. "What makes growth sustained?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 149-166.
    4. Arvind Subramanian & Jonathan David Ostry & Simon Johnson, 2007. "The Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa; Benchmarking the Constraints," IMF Working Papers 07/52, International Monetary Fund.
    5. John Armour & Simon Deakin & Prabirjit Sarkar & Mathias Siems & Ajit Singh, 2007. "Shareholder Protection and Stock Market Development: An Empirical Test of the Legal Origins Hypothesis," Working Papers wp358, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    6. Danne, Christian, 2009. "Commitment devices, opportunity windows, and institution building in Central Asia," MPRA Paper 16597, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Francisco A. Gallego, 2010. "Historical Origins of Schooling: The Role of Democracy and Political Decentralization," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 228-243, May.
    8. Nirvikar Singh, 2007. "The dynamics of reform of India’s federal system," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 8(1), pages 22-31, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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