Institutions and long-run growth performance: An analytic literature review of the institutional determinants of economic growth

Richard Bluhm & Adam Szirmai


This paper provides an analytic review of selected contributions to the study of institutions and economic growth. We review the contributions to the study of institutional determinants of long-run growth by Engerman and Sokoloff, and Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson. We discuss the work of Rodrik and others who focus on institutions and institutional reform and take steps towards bridging the gap between the study of long-run and short-run growth performances. In addition, we review two new theoretical frameworks by North, Wallis and Weingast and Khan that relate the structure of institutions to short-run volatility and long-run growth trends. We survey a wide array of supplementary econometric evidence and criticisms relating to each of these key contributions. Special attention is given to identifying the underlying causal relationships, the empirical methods and the kind of data used to test theories and hypotheses found in the literature. Further, we compare the findings in different strands of the literature using a sources-of-growth framework which distinguishes between ultimate, intermediate and proximate causes of growth and development.

Keywords: growth, institutions, inequality, development

JEL Classification: O43, O30, O11