NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Institutional Comparative Statics

James A. Robinson, Ragnar Torvik

NBER Working Paper No. 17106
Issued in June 2011
NBER Program(s):   POL

Why was the Black Death followed by the decline of serfdom in Western Europe but its' intensification in Eastern Europe? What explains why involvement in Atlantic trade in the Early Modern period was positively correlated with economic growth in Britain but negatively correlated in Spain? Why did frontier expansion in the 19th Century Americas go along with economic growth in the United States and economic decline in Latin America? Why do natural resource booms seem to stimulate growth in some countries, but lead to a 'curse' in others, and why does foreign aid sometimes seem to encourage, other times impede economic growth? In this paper we argue that the response of economies to shocks or innovations in economic opportunities depends on the nature of institutions. When institutions are strong, new opportunities or windfalls can have positive effects. But when institutions are weak they can have negative effects. We present a simple model to illustrate how comparative statics are conditional on the nature of institutions and show how this perspective helps to unify a large number of historical episodes and empirical studies.

download in pdf format
   (257 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (257 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17106

Published: “Instituti onal Comparative Statics” (2013) ( joint with Ragnar Torvik, University of Trondheim) Daron Acemoglu, Manuel Arellano and Eddie Dekel eds. Advances in Economics and Econometrics : Tenth World Congress, Volume II, Applied Economics , New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 97 - 134.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Adrian and Brunnermeier w17454 CoVaR
Galor w17058 Inequality, Human Capital Formation and the Process of Development
Card, DellaVigna, and Malmendier w17047 The Role of Theory in Field Experiments
Hamilton w16790 Historical Oil Shocks
Robinson and Torvik w14603 Endogenous Presidentialism
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us