The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation
Simon Johnson and
James Robinson ()
No 7771, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
We exploit differences in the mortality rates faced by European colonialists to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Our argument is that Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. The choice of colonization strategy was, at least in part, determined by whether Europeans could settle in the colony. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and they were more likely to set up worse (extractive) institutions. These early institutions persisted to the present. We document evidence supporting these hypotheses. Exploiting differences in mortality rates faced by soldiers, bishops and sailors in the colonies in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capita. Our estimates imply that differences in institutions explain approximately three-quarters of the income per capita differences across former colonies. Once we control for the effect of institutions, we find that countries in Africa or those farther away from the equator do not have lower incomes.
JEL-codes: O11 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev
Note: DAE EFG LS
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (132) Track citations by RSS feed
Published as Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson and James A. Robinson. "The Colonial Origins Of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, 2001, v91(5,Dec), 1369-1401.
Downloads: (external link)
Journal Article: The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation (2001)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: http://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7771
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Series data maintained by ().