Working Paper No. 758

Colonial Heritage and Economic Development

Published: August 5, 2008Pages: 62Keywords: Economic Development; Culture; Origins of Political InstitutionsJEL-codes: O11; O12; N10; P16

Colonial Heritage and Economic Development Andrea Asoni


While the importance of institutions for explaining cross-country income differences is widely recognized, comparatively little is known about the origins of economic institutions. One strand of the literature emphasizes cultural differences while another points at exogenous environmental factors such as mortality and climate. Both are supported by some empirical evidence. I reconcile the two schools of institutional origins by proposing a theory of self-selection of colonists to different geographic destinations. Exogenous characteristics such as climate, mortality and factor differences determine which type of settler decides to move to a particular colony. Settler type, in turn, shapes the institutional quality of the new country. The model is used to confirm observed regularities reported by previous researchers. Furthermore, robust new evidence is presented in support of this selection process. The results suggest that any theory of colonial development that does not take selection into account will be incomplete.

 

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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