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Geography, European settlements and compared development in the Americas

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  • Luis Vaz Silva

Abstract

The interplay between factor endowments,institutionl development and economic performance has received considerable attention in recent years. This paper exploits the importance of geographic factors and institutional structures for explaining patterns of settlement and examines how these influenced growth outcomes. I find evidence that prospective European migrants preferred to settle in regions with favourable natural endowments and institutional packages designed to attract them. These settlers not only benefited from a growth-inducing institutional framework but also contributed actively to its quality in a mutually reinforcing relationship. Countries that competed for migrants achieved higher income levels through institutional development and better provision of public goods. Finally, my findings show that the link between European migrants and economic development is not linear, as the positive effects of attracting European settlers on institutions and public goods are set off only when European populations grow to outnumber other ethnic groups. Countries where European migrants remained a minority were more likely to develop institutions that advantaged a small elite and eliminated opportunities for the bulk of the population.

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Vaz Silva, 2005. "Geography, European settlements and compared development in the Americas," Working Papers 200518, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200518
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/1342
    File Function: First version, 2005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
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    3. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    4. Chih Ming Tan, 2010. "No one true path: uncovering the interplay between geography, institutions, and fractionalization in economic development," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(7), pages 1100-1127, November/.
    5. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 1203-1250.
    6. Casella, Alessandra & Rauch, James E., 2002. "Anonymous market and group ties in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 19-47.
    7. Alesina, Alberto & Özler, Sule & Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    8. Nugent, Jeffrey B & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Are Endowments Fate?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3206, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1369-1401.
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