Paul Hünermund, Georg Licht, 08 July 2016

European countries are increasingly coordinating their national research and development policies. However, supra-national R&D programmes entail problems from a governance standpoint. This column discusses the problem of cross-subsidisation between participating countries. European joint programming initiatives are usually designed to avoid international transfer payments. Empirical evidence suggests that doing so comes at the price of decreased efficiency. 

Debraj Ray, Joan Esteban, 04 July 2016

Since 1950, more than half of the world’s countries have experienced situations of civil war. In this video, Debraj Ray and Joan Esteban discuss their research on the impact of conflict on economic development. In order to design the best possible institutions to cope with conflict, we need to understand the drivers of these conflicts. This video was recorded during the conference on “Economic Development and Institutions” held in Paris in June 2016.

Jean-Philippe Platteau, Catherine Guirkinger, 01 July 2016

Family is a key institution in many countries, particularly developing countries. In this video, Jean-Philippe Platteau and Catherine Guirkinger discuss the role of families in society. In countries where the judicial system is weak, families are important in settling conflicts and can replace formal institutions. Families can also change the impact of public policies. This video was recorded during the conference on “Economic Development and Institutions” held in Paris in June 2016.

Munshi Kaivan, 29 June 2016

Institutions are implicit or explicit rules that bring people with the same objective together. In this video, Kaivan Munshi discusses the role of informal community-based institutions in migration and the development process. Pre-existing social groups support migration and eventually development. This video was shot during the conference on “Economic Development and Institutions” held in Paris in June 2016.

Samuel Bowles, 27 June 2016

Institutions define the rules of the game, and understanding them allows to us to understand how economies change. In this video, Sam Bowles discusses the role of institutions for wealth inequality and redistribution of wealth. Politics and institutions are the key to understanding inequality. This video was shot during the Conference on Economic Development and Institutions held in January 2016 at the University of Namur.

Mariassunta Giannetti , Bige Kahraman, 09 June 2016

Theoretical corrections of price deviations in trade are not reflected in empirical evidence. This is surprising because institutional investors should be able be able to identify mispricing. This column explores how the organisation of the asset management industry may hamper trading against mispricing. Asset managers that are less subject to redemption risk exhibit a higher propensity to trade against mispricing. Organisational structures lowering the sensitivity of investor flows to performance strengthen asset managers’ incentives to trade against mispricing.

Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Wensi Xie, 03 June 2016

There has been much research on the effects of banking crises, but corporate resilience to systemic crises is less well understood. This column uses data from 34 countries from 1990 to 2011 to analyse the role of social trust – societal expectations that people will behave honestly and cooperatively – in building corporate resilience. It finds that social trust facilitates access to trade credit, and dampens the harmful effects of crises on corporate profits and employment.

Marcela Eslava, Xavier Freixas, 31 May 2016

Public development banks play a significant role in the allocation of credit to businesses that may be unable to attain credit under normal circumstances, despite generating positive externalities. But there is concern that lending by these institutions may end up being allocated inefficiently. This column considers the costly screening that banks must do to allocate funds. It finds that the inefficient allocation of credit may arise when banks are unable to fully internalise the benefits of possible projects. Direct lending and the implementation of subsidies for intermediated lending are two possible ways to counter expensive screening.

Jeremiah Dittmar, Ralf R Meisenzahl, 26 April 2016

Throughout history, most states have functioned as kleptocracies and not as providers of public goods. This column analyses the diffusion of legal institutions that established Europe’s first large-scale experiments in mass public education. These institutions originated in Germany during the Protestant Reformation due to popular political mobilisation, but only in around half of Protestant cities. Cities that formalised these institutions grew faster over the next 200 years, both by attracting and by producing more highly skilled residents.

Elias Papaioannou, 12 February 2016

Institutional redesign and reform are currently being debated and implemented at the EU and EZ levels. However, there is a growing institutional gap across member countries – especially between the core and periphery. This column illustrates the extent of this gap. Weak institutions have already stifled reform efforts, such as the Economic Adjustment Programs undertaken by Greece and Portugal. The success of pan-European reforms and the future of the Eurozone will require coordinated action to close this institutional gap.

Rudiger Ahrend, Alexander Lembcke, Abel Schumann, 19 January 2016

A city’s metropolitan governance structure has a critical influence on the quality of life and economic outcomes of its inhabitants. This column quantifies the impact of governance on productivity using data from five OECD countries. Administrative fragmentation, which complicates policy coordination across a city, has a negative effect on individual productivity. This finding, combined with benefits from good governance such as improved transport and lower pollution levels, highlights the importance of well-designed metropolitan authorities.

Kent Jones, 30 November 2015

WTO members have somehow found it extremely difficult, in the 21st century, to reach a comprehensive multilateral agreement to expand mutual gains from trade. This column argues that success in expanding global trade will depend on major trading countries’ willingness to seek new institutional paths to multilateral agreements, through new negotiating modalities, openness to the expansion of regional agreements to new members, and in establishing reciprocity expectations for members according to their development status.  

Kevin Bryan, 27 November 2015

Douglass North, economic historian and co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, passed away this week. This column pays tribute to one of the great social scientific pioneers of the modern era – focusing on one particular example of how North drew on historical, empirical and theoretical evidence to understand the interactions between institutions and economic change.

Sebastian Edwards, Alvaro Garcia Marin, 02 January 2015

Given the widely recognised importance of institutions to economic development, the question arises of how to promote development through institutional change. This column investigates how constitutional provision of the right to education affects educational attainment. Initial analysis indicates a negative correlation, but this relationship is not robust to controlling for legal origin. Factors such as judicial review likely affect implementation of constitutional provisions.

Mercedes Delgado, Christian Ketels, Michael Porter, Scott Stern, 18 September 2014

There is a consensus among economists that ‘deep roots’ – geography, natural endowments, and institutions – are important determinants of prosperity differences across countries. This column argues that deep roots matter, but they are neither the whole story nor an excuse for political inaction today. Current policies are important – especially the broad range of policies that shape the business environment and the sophistication of companies – and they are affected but not determined by the past.

James Boughton, 15 September 2014

The international financial system is not working fine and reforms of regional and global institutions are much needed. This column discusses some of the transformations that the IMF could implement in order to keep pace with the changes in the world economy. One problem for the credibility of the IMF is the G20 in its current design and organisation. Institutional reforms, however, should be combined with advances in economic policy in order to promote economic growth and financial stability.

Coen Teulings, 11 July 2014

The financial crisis and the Great Recession have led to calls for more economic history in economic education. This column argues for a much broader use of history in economics courses, as a device for teaching both the logic and the empirical relevance of economics. A proposed curriculum would include the rise of agriculture, urbanisation, war, the rule of law, and demography.

André Carlos Martínez, Aldo Musacchio, Martina Viarengo, 09 July 2014

Institutions are known to play a powerful and enduring role in countries’ divergent levels of economic development. This column presents evidence that institutions matter for within-country inequality, too. In Brazil, changes in export prices and export tax revenues led to an increase in education spending in states that experienced commodity booms, which increased the number of schools and improved educational outcomes such as literacy rates. However, the effect was limited in states where slavery was predominant in colonial times.

Joshua Aizenman, 03 July 2014

After a promising first decade, the Eurozone faced a severe crisis. This column looks at the Eurozone’s short history through the lens of an evolutionary approach to forming new institutions. German dominance has allowed the euro to achieve a number of design objectives, and this may continue if Germany does not shirk its responsibilities. Germany’s resilience and dominant size within the EU may explain its ‘muddling through’ approach to the Eurozone crisis. Greater mobility of labour and lower mobility of under-regulated capital may be the costly ‘second best’ adjustment until the arrival of more mature Eurozone institutions.

Denis Cogneau, Alexander Moradi, 17 May 2014

The quasi-experiment of arbitrary border design allows for causal interpretation of institutional effects across territories. This column presents evidence on the impact of British and French colonial education policies in West Africa. British flexibility and French centralisation resulted in educational attainment differences that persist – across one border – even among some cohorts of the current workforce.

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