Institutions and economics

Refet Gürkaynak, Cédric Tille, 28 April 2017

Are Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models worthwhile? Some economists suggest not, due to their complex nature and disputable assumptions.  This column introduces a new eBook which provides an all-round evaluation of DSGE models, widely used by many central banks, by looking at their current and historical uses as well as their future position in 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.

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