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American Economic Review: Vol. 102 No. 6 (October 2012)

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The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment

Article Citation

Albouy, David Y. 2012. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment." American Economic Review, 102(6): 3059-76.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.6.3059

Abstract

Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson's (2001) seminal article argues property-rights institutions powerfully affect national income, using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers to instrument capital expropriation risk. However, 36 of the 64 countries in the sample are assigned mortality rates from other countries, often based on mistaken or conflicting evidence. Also, incomparable mortality rates from populations of laborers, bishops, and soldiers—often on campaign—are combined in a manner that favors the hypothesis. When these data issues are controlled for, the relationship between mortality and expropriation risk lacks robustness, and instrumental-variable estimates become unreliable, often with infinite confidence intervals. (JEL D02, E23, F54, I12, N40, O43, P14)

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Authors

Albouy, David Y. (U MI)

JEL Classifications

D02: Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations
E23: Macroeconomics: Production
F54: Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
I12: Health Production
N40: Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: General, International, or Comparative
O43: Institutions and Growth
P14: Capitalist Systems: Property Rights


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