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

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  • Ewout Frankema

    () (Utrecht University)

  • Aline Masé

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewout Frankema & Aline Masé, 2012. "An Island Drifting Apart: Why Haiti mires in poverty while the Dominican Republic forges ahead," Working Papers 0027, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0027
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    File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEH.WP_.No27.Frankema%26Mas%C3%A9.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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, May.
    3. 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, 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. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Keywords

    Haiti; Dominican Republic; Economic Divergence; Institutional Theory;

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