NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Institutions Cause Growth?

Edward L. Glaeser, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, Andrei Shleifer

NBER Working Paper No. 10568
Issued in June 2004
NBER Program(s):   EFG

We revisit the debate over whether political institutions cause economic growth, or whether, alternatively, growth and human capital accumulation lead to institutional improvement. We find that most indicators of institutional quality used to establish the proposition that institutions cause growth are constructed to be conceptually unsuitable for that purpose. We also find that some of the instrumental variable techniques used in the literature are flawed. Basic OLS results, as well as a variety of additional evidence, suggest that a) human capital is a more basic source of growth than are the institutions, b) poor countries get out of poverty through good policies, often pursued by dictators, and c) subsequently improve their political institutions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10568

Published: Glaeser, Edward L., Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes and Andrei Shleifer. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, 2004, v9(3,Sep), 271-303. citation courtesy of

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