Daron Acemoğlu, Davide Cantoni, Simon Johnson, James Robinson, 02 July 2009

Can external agents successfully impose significant institutional reforms? Many economists are sceptical. This column assesses major reforms the French imposed upon their conquered European neighbours in the years after the French Revolution. The reforms, imposed suddenly without concern for being “appropriate to local conditions”, appear to have spurred significantly faster economic growth.

Trevon Logan, Manisha Shah, 25 April 2009

This column studies the online (illegal) market for male sex work. It shows that participants find ways to get the prices right, even in the absence of formal enforcement mechanisms, using technology to share and disseminate information. The risk of fraud is disciplined by client reviews and demand for photos in escorts’ advertisements.

Daron Acemoğlu, 27 February 2009

Daron Acemoglu of MIT talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, Introduction to Modern Economic Growth. They discuss why sustained growth took off in Europe in the nineteenth century, the roles of technology and institutions in explaining why some countries grow rapidly while others stagnate, and the growth prospects for the world’s poorest countries as well as the recent Asian success stories. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.

Matthieu Crozet, Pamina Koenig, Vincent Rebeyrol, 14 January 2009

Institutional failures impede international trade, but they do not impose uniform costs on firms as tariffs do. This column says that institutional insecurity, in addition to lowering the total volume of trade, may discourage the most productive firms from exporting to a country. Improving governance can then produce big gains from trade.

David Laibson, 02 January 2009

We need a combination of psychology and economics to understand people's savings and investment decisions, says David Laibson of Harvard University in an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam. We can then build institutions that help people do what they want to do. The interview was recorded at the Centre for Economic Performance in London, where Laibson was delivering the Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures in November 2007.

Dani Rodrik, 19 December 2008

Dani Rodrik of the Harvard Kennedy School talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the role of institutions in economic development. They discuss the use of ‘growth diagnostics’ to identify the binding constraints on economic activity and hence the priorities for policy and institutional reform, drawing on Rodrik’s experiences applying the framework to South Africa. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in New Orleans in January 2008.

Elias Papaioannou, Gregorios Siourounis, 25 October 2008

Cross-country comparisons have produced little evidence that democracy improves economic growth. This column summarises research using within-country comparisons over time to show that democratising countries realise higher long-run growth after the volatile transition period. Democracy’s value may lie in its dynamic aspects.


CEPR and the Paris School of Economics are jointly organizing (with financial assistance from Agence Nationale pour la Recherche, ANR) a one and a half day workshop focusing on conflicts, globalization and development. The workshop will take place at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne campus of the Paris School of Economics. Papers are being sought that focus on the following topics: · Causes and consequences of violent conflicts: civil wars, interstate wars, terrorism, rebellion... · Arms trade · International trade, capital flows and violent conflicts · Institutions and violent conflicts · Multilateral institutions and conflicts . Political versus economic causes of conflicts...

Betsey Stevenson, Justin Wolfers, 04 August 2008

Surveys that have attempted to measure the level of happiness in US citizens by means of a subjective response have unveiled decreases in happiness inequality. The authors of CEPR DP6929 have used these responses to analyse the level and dispersion of happiness within and between demographic groups over the period of 1972-2006.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Eduard Hochreiter, 02 August 2008

The development gap between former Soviet states is striking – top performers like Estonia have joined the European Union while others, such as Georgia, lag far behind. What accounts for these differences? In the case of Estonia, this column attributes them to successful institutional reforms, good governance, and investments in education.

Raphael Auer, 26 July 2008

Why are some economies rich and others poor? The economics profession is divided between rival schools of thought that emphasise geography or institutions. This column assesses the relative importance of each using the interaction of history and geography. The answer raises major policy implications.

Maarten Bosker, Eltjo Buringh, Jan Luiten van Zanden, 28 June 2008

Baghdad was a wonder of the world in the year 800 while London was an economic backwater. By 1800, London was the largest city in the world while Arab cities languished. Recent research attributes this ‘trading places’ to institutional differences: Arab cities were tied to the fate of the state while European cities were independent growth poles.

Kris Mitchener, 11 April 2008

Institutions play a central role in determining trade flows. Evidence from the age of high imperialism suggests that political relationships can be as powerful at dictating trade flows as geography and other institutional factors, such as currency unions or widespread fixed-exchange rate regimes like the gold standard.

Guido Tabellini, 04 December 2007

Individuals' morality is a key mechanism through which distant political and economic history shapes the functioning of current institutions.

Liam Brunt, 25 September 2007

Historical evidence from a natural experiment in South Africa suggests that changing particular institutions is really only tinkering at the economic margins. Establishing clear property rights, by contrast, facilitates almost all economic interactions and unleashes the full potential of the economy. Several developing economies – such as Vietnam and China – have recently been moving down this road, and history suggests that the economic gains are likely to be large.

Benjamin Jones, Benjamin Olken, 13 May 2007

Assassinations, and attempted assassinations, have occurred throughout history and are a persistent feature of the political landscape. In fact, a national leader has been assassinated in nearly two out of every three years since 1950.



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