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Understanding Poverty$
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Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Roland Bénabou, and Dilip Mookherjee

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305197

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195305191.001.0001

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Understanding Prosperity and Poverty: Geography, Institutions, and the Reversal of Fortune

Understanding Prosperity and Poverty: Geography, Institutions, and the Reversal of Fortune

Chapter:
(p.19) 2 Understanding Prosperity and Poverty: Geography, Institutions, and the Reversal of Fortune
Source:
Understanding Poverty
Author(s):

Daron Acemoglu (Contributor Webpage)

Simon Johnson

James Robinson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195305191.003.0002

Geography and institutions are the two main contenders to explain the fundamental causes of cross-country differences in prosperity. The geography hypothesis — which has a large following both in the popular imagination and in academia — maintains that the geography, climate, and ecology of a society’s location shape both its technology and the incentives of its inhabitants. This essay argues that differences in institutions are more important than geography for understanding the divergent economic and social conditions of nations. While the geography hypothesis emphasizes forces of nature as a primary factor in the poverty of nations, the institutions hypothesis is about man-made influences. A case is developed for the importance of institutions which draws on the history of European colonization.

Keywords:   cross-country difference, geography hypothesis, institutions hypothesis, European colonization

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