Monday, April 23, 2007

The 2007 best paper on Brazilian Economic History

William Summerhill sent the paper to me and it is available on-line now. I have a few comments and suggestions, but at the end of the day it is an excellent paper:
Rent Seeking and the Unveiling of ‘De Facto’ Institutions: Development and Colonial Heritage within Brazil

Joana Naritomi
Rodrigo R. Soares
Juliano J. Assunção

This paper analyzes the roots and implications of variations in de facto institutions, within a constant de jure institutional setting. We explore the role of rent-seeking episodes in colonial Brazil as determinants of the quality of current local institutions, and argue that this variation reveals a de facto dimension of institutional quality. We show that municipalities with origins tracing back to the sugar-cane colonial cycle – characterized by a polarized and oligarchic socioeconomic structure – display today more inequality in the distribution of land.
Municipalities with origins tracing back to the gold colonial cycle – characterized by an over-bureaucratic and heavily intervening presence of the Portuguese state – display today worse governance practices and less access to justice. Using variables created from the rent-seeking colonial episodes as instruments to current institutions, we show that local governance and access to justice are significantly related to long-term development across Brazilian municipalities

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