Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment

62 Pages Posted: 14 May 2006 Last revised: 19 Jul 2010

See all articles by Raghuram G. Rajan

Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; International Monetary Fund (IMF); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Luigi Zingales

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

Initial inequality in endowments and opportunities, together with low average levels of endowments, can create constituencies in a society that combine to paralyze reforms, even though the status quo hurts them collectively. Each constituency prefers reforms that expand its opportunities, but in an unequal society, this will typically hurt another constituency's rents. Competitive rent preservation ensures no comprehensive reform path may command broad support. Though the initial conditions may well be a legacy of the colonial past, persistence does not require the presence of coercive political institutions, perhaps one reason why underdevelopment has survived independence and democratization. Instead, the roots of underdevelopment may lie in the natural tendency towards rent preservation in a divided society.

Suggested Citation

Rajan, Raghuram G. and Zingales, Luigi, Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment (March 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12093. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=889883

Raghuram G. Rajan (Contact Author)

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Luigi Zingales

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

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