NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Link Between Fundamentals and Proximate Factors in Development

Wolfgang Keller, Carol H. Shiue

NBER Working Paper No. 18808
Issued in February 2013, Revised in March 2014
NBER Program(s):EFG, ITI

The paper introduces a framework for studying the hierarchy of growth factors, from deep to more immediate. The specific setting we examine is 18th and 19th century Germany, when institutional changes introduced by reforms and transportation improvements converged to create city growth. We assess the impact of institutions on growth by allowing two ways for institutions to affect growth. Institutions can directly affect growth, or it can impact on trade, which in turn affects growth. Once we separately quantify the link from institutions to trade, and trade to growth, the independent effect of institutions on growth is small. This suggests that part of what is often understood as trade's effect on growth can be attributed to institutional change. It is straightforward to apply this framework to other settings.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18808

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