Institutions and economics

Riccardo Crescenzi, Marco Di Cataldo, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 11 April 2017

Transport infrastructure investment is a cornerstone of growth-promoting strategies around the world. However, investment in new infrastructure is not always conducive to stronger economic performance. This column argues that the lack of positive economic returns may be due to institutional failures mitigating the growth effects of public capital expenditures. In contexts marked by weak and inefficient governments and widespread corruption, different types of road investments yield low or no economic returns.

Emmanuelle Auriol, Jean-Philippe Platteau, 09 April 2017

The extent to which Islam is responsible for the problems encountered in countries in which it dominates has been the subject of much attention. This column explores the effect of religions with differing organisational structures on progressive institutional reforms, state corruption, and political stability. Decentralised religions such as Islam are more conducive to institutional stagnation and political instability than centralised religions such as Catholicism or Eastern Christianity, with negative consequences for long-term development.

Thorsten Beck, Geoffrey Underhill, 01 March 2017

The institutions and even the very idea of the EU are under fire, with feelings of disenfranchisement among large parts of the population driving support for populist movements across the continent. This column introduces a new eBook that brings together analyses of this multidimensional crisis and of the way out - the future of the European Union. A worryingly common message is that muddling through will not be enough to save the EU as a political project.

Tessa Bold, Tobias Broer, 16 February 2017

The substantial literature examining risk-sharing practices in rural villages in developing countries has typically taken the social institutions in these communities as given. Using data from India, this column challenges this assumption by showing how the costs and benefits of risk-sharing arrangements can shape these social institutions. The results suggest that the size and nature of these risk-sharing groups may evolve over time as their environment changes. Public policy to reduce consumption fluctuations can be counterproductive in the standard model because of a strong crowding-out effect.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 14 February 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces the second eBook in a new three-part series which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics. This volume focuses on attempts by economists to shed light on the effects of European colonisers on development and culture across Africa and Asia.

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