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An Island Drifting Apart: Why Haiti mires in poverty while the Dominican Republic forges ahead

  • Ewout Frankema


    (Utrecht University)

  • Aline Masé

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti has exposed the extreme vulnerability of a people living in a country where the state and the economy simultaneously fail to deliver. Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, has witnessed several phases of strong economic growth since the 1870s and an encouraging transition towards democratic rule in the late 20th century. How could this Caribbean island drift apart so profoundly? Capitalizing on decades of seminal scholarship in the neo-institutional tradition North, Wallis and Weingast (2009) have developed a new conceptual framework to explain different performance characteristics of societies through time. In this study we put the latest vintage of institutional theory to the test by taking it to the case of Hispaniola. We conclude that it captures the differing internal logic of the political economy in both countries quite well, but that it is of little use to understand the effect of external (international) relations on long term development.

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Paper provided by Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History in its series Working Papers with number 0027.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0027
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Utrecht, Drift 10, The Netherlands
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  1. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, June.
  2. 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.
  3. Frankema, Ewout, 2009. "The Expansion of Mass Education in Twentieth Century Latin America: A Global Comparative Perspective," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(03), pages 359-396, January.
  4. Laura Jaramillo & Cemile Sancak, 2007. "Growth in the Dominican Republic and Haiti: Why has the Grass Been Greener on One Side of Hispaniola?," IMF Working Papers 07/63, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Ewout Frankema, 2010. "The colonial roots of land inequality: geography, factor endowments, or institutions?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 418-451, 05.
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