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The Colonial and Geographic Origins of Comparative Development

  • Raphael Anton Auer

While the direct impact of geographic endowments on prosperity is present in all countries, in former colonies, geography has also affected colonization policies and institutional outcomes. Thus, one can disentangle the partial effects of endowments and institutions on income by utilizing the interaction of geography and colonial experience. I first document that climate and disease did affect institutional development in the group of former colonies while this is not the case in the rest of the world. Second, I develop an empirical strategy that identifies the relation between institutions and income but that also accounts for the direct effect of endowments. I find that institutions are the main determinant of development and that endowments also have a sizeable direct impact on development. Third, I highlight the importance of disease environment for both colonization policies and income directly.

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Paper provided by Swiss National Bank in its series Working Papers with number 2008-08.

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Length: 76 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2008-08
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  1. 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.
  2. Albouy, David, 2006. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt8kt576x8, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio, 2002. "Fractionalization," Research Papers 1744, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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  6. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote, 2009. "Colonialism and Modern Income: Islands as Natural Experiments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 245-262, May.
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  8. Francisco Gallego, 2008. "Historical Origins of Schooling: The Role of Democracy and Political Decentralization," Documentos de Trabajo 342, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  9. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  14. 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.
  15. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2003. "Institutions, trade, and growth : revisiting the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3004, The World Bank.
  16. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2003. "Disease and Development in Historical Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 397-405, 04/05.
  17. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
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  21. 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.
  22. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
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