Economic development, growth, institutions and geography

Samyukta Bhupatiraju & Bart Verspagen


In this paper, we test the Rodrik et al (2004) framework to explain differences in development levels across countries by using a broader set of definitions for institutions, geography and economic variables. We use a multi-faceted database to measure institutions in an attempt to go beyond the single-dimension measures that are often employed. We find that institutions trump other factors (geography and trade) when we use GDP per capita as an independent variable. When we expand the dependent variable to include other aspects of development, such as growth and investment, we find that institutions, growth and geography are all important variables. In this case, institutions no longer trump the other factors. In this case, we also find that the same institutions variable that was positively associated to GDP per capita is now negatively correlated with the more dynamic development variable.

Keywords: institutions, geography, openness, governance, economic development

JEL Classification: O1, O16, O17

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