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American Economic Review: Vol. 91 No. 5 (December 2001)

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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation

Article Citation

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation." American Economic Review, 91(5): 1369-1401.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.5.1369

Abstract

We exploit differences in European mortality rates to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and were more likely to set up extractive institutions. These institutions persisted to the present. Exploiting differences in European mortality rates as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capita. Once the effect of institutions is controlled for, countries in Africa or those closer to the equator do not have lower incomes.

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Authors

Acemoglu, Daron (MIT and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research)
Johnson, Simon (MIT)
Robinson, James A. (U CA, Berkeley)

JEL Classifications

O11: Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
P51: Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
I12: Health Production
N10: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative
O57: Comparative Studies of Countries


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