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

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  • David Y. Albouy

Abstract

In a seminal contribution, Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001) argue property-rights institutions powerfully affect national income, using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers to instrument capital expropriation risk. However 36 of the 64 countries in their sample are assigned mortality rates from other countries, typically based on mistaken or conflicting evidence. Also, incomparable mortality rates from populations of laborers, bishops, and soldiers - often on campaign - are combined in a manner favoring their hypothesis. When these data issues are controlled for, the relationship between mortality and expropriation risk lacks robustness, and instrumental-variable estimates become unreliable, often with infinite confidence intervals.

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  • David Y. Albouy, 2008. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data," NBER Working Papers 14130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14130
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    More about this item

    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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