Endogenous Institutions and Economic Outcomes
61 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2013 Last revised: 16 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 4, 2019
To evaluate the relative importance of a culture of cooperation and inclusive political institutions, I divide Europe into 120 km X 120 km grid cells, and I exploit the exogenous variation in both institutions created by medieval history. To illustrate, I document strong first-stage relationships between present-day norms of respect and trust and the severity of consumption risk---i.e., climate volatility---over the period 1000-1600 and between the inclusiveness of present-day regional political institutions and the factors that raised the returns on elite-citizenry investments, i.e., ruggedness of the terrain and direct access to the coast. Building on these separate first-stages, I show that only culture has a first order effect on income, even after controlling for country fixed effects, proxies for the alternative roles of the excluded instruments, factors modulating the roles of institutions, and intermediate outcomes. The excluded instruments have no direct impact on income, and the effect of culture holds within pairs of adjacent grid cells that differ in their medieval climate volatility. Two possible explanations for these results are that more inclusive regional political institutions might have impeded, in the early modern era, state-building and market integration, and that, in modern representative democracies, they are irrelevant in easing the monitoring of politicians by voters when the latter are not morally compelled to punish political malfeasance or if the former have weak civic virtues. Macro and micro evidence supports these ideas.
Keywords: Geography, Culture, Democracy, Development, Political Accountability
JEL Classification: O13, H10, Z10, O10, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation