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Land-abundance, frontier expansion and the hypothesis of appropriability revisited from an historical perspective: settler economies during the First Globalization

Listed author(s):
  • Henry Willebald

    ()

    (Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración. Instituto de Economía)

Settler economies are characterized for the abundance of natural resources. However, natural capital is not homogeneous and it induces differences in terms of economic performance. I discuss the effect of agricultural natural resources on production and income distribution in the agriculture in the tradition of the curse (and blessing) of the natural resources hypothesis, from the mid-19th century to WWI. I consider the interaction between natural resources that a country posses, the type of land according to the agricultural aptitude and the quality of its institutions in terms of the concept of appropriability of a resource. I propose two approaches. One of them is based on the estimation of the statistical relationship between economic performance, natural resources and institutions. The other one is based on the historical description of the distribution of land rights in the River Plate and Australasia. In the first one, I reject the curse of the abundance of natural resources on the agricultural production but I do not reject it as regards income distribution. Nor technical neither institutional dimension of appropriability hypothesis work for agricultural production but both operate in terms of inequality; i.e. expanding the frontier by the best lands makes worse income distribution but the action of institutional quality on high land aptitude improve equality. The second approach proposes to give historical context to my analysis. I consider the institutional arrangements related to the land property, and they seemed suitable for obtaining high levels of income but inadequate to promote more egalitarian societies. Therefore, appropriability problems were more intense for Hispanic ex-colonies than for British ex-colonies which, in addition, enjoyed institutions more favourable for reducing inequality.

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Paper provided by Instituto de Economía - IECON in its series Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) with number 14-14.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:ulr:wpaper:dt-14-14
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  1. G. R. Hawke, 1979. "Acquisitiveness and Equality in New Zealand's Economic Development," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 32(3), pages 376-390, 08.
  2. Jonathan Isham & Michael Woolcock & Lant Pritchett & Gwen Busby, 2005. "The Varieties of Resource Experience: Natural Resource Export Structures and the Political Economy of Economic Growth," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 141-174.
  3. Thorvaldur Gylfason, 2007. "The International Economics of Natural Resources and Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 1994, CESifo Group Munich.
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  8. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2002. "Polarization, Politics and Property Rights: Links between Inequality and Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(1-2), pages 127-154, March.
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  10. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar & Verdier, Thierry, 2006. "Political foundations of the resource curse," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 447-468, April.
  11. Anne D. Boschini & Jan Pettersson & Jesper Roine, 2007. "Resource Curse or Not: A Question of Appropriability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(3), pages 593-617, 09.
  12. Willebald, Henry, 2007. "Desigualdad y especialización en el crecimiento de las economías templadas de nuevo asentamiento, 1870–1940," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 293-347, January.
  13. 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.
  14. H. Heaton, 1925. "The Taxation of Unimproved Value of Land in Australia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 410-449.
  15. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2007. "Relative Factor Prices In The Periphery During The First Global Century: Any Lessons For Today?," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 47(2), pages 200-206, 07.
  16. Sebastián Fleitas & Andrés Rius & Carolina Román & Henry Willebald, 2013. "Contract enforcement, investment and growth in Uruguay since 1870," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 13-01, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
  17. Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Isabel Sanz-Villarroya, 2009. "Contract enforcement, capital accumulation, and Argentina's long-run decline," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 3(1), pages 1-26, January.
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