Why the US and not Brazil? Old Elites and the Development of a Modern Economy
Old elites can block changes, but not all do. Why is it that stronger elites may allow more changes than weaker elites? Why do economies with larger stocks of natural resources not grow faster than economies poorer in natural resources? We argue that old elites hold some power to extract rents from the economy. Whereas old sectors (i.e. agriculture or extraction of natural resources) are not affected by rent extraction, modern sectors require investments that do react to rent extraction. At the same time, a modern sector relies on networks of firms. These structures form the basis of political power of a new elite, which reduces the ability of the old elite to extract rents. We show that countries rich in natural resources provide their old elite with incentives to extract rents so high that the private sector has no incentives to build up a modern economy. If the old elite is either politically very strong or the natural resource sector is small compared to the potential of the modern sector, the old elite will choose to extract smaller rents from a growing sector. Some empirical evidence completes the paper.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2001.
"A Theory of Political Transitions,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 938-963, September.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," CEPR Discussion Papers 2277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
- Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Monopoly rights: a barrier to riches," Staff Report 236, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 3261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," NBER Working Papers 8831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
- Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
- Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
- Hahn, Sunku, 2003. "Why should reform wait until things get really bad?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 345-352, June.
- Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, July. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)