Pre-colonial institutions and long-run development in Latin America

Elizalde, Aldo (2016) Pre-colonial institutions and long-run development in Latin America. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The present doctoral thesis studies the association between pre-colonial institutions and long-run development in Latin America. The thesis is organised as follows:

Chapter 1 places the motivation of the thesis by underlying relevant contributions in the literature on long-run development. I then set out the main objective of the thesis, followed by a brief outline of it.

In Chapter 2, I study the effects of pre-colonial institutions on present-day socioeconomic outcomes for Latin America. The main thesis of this chapter is that more advanced pre-colonial institutions relate to better socioeconomic outcomes today - principally, but not only, through their effects on the Amerindian population. I test such hypothesis with a dataset of 324 sub-national administrative units covering all mainland Latin American countries. The extensive range of controls covers factors such as climate, location, natural resources, colonial activities and pre-colonial characteristics - plus country fixed effects. Results strongly support the main thesis.

In Chapter 3, I further analyse the association between pre-colonial institutions and present-day economic development in Latin America by using the historical ethnic homelands as my main unit of analysis. The main hypothesis is that ethnic homelands inhabited by more advanced ethnic groups -as measured by their levels of institutional complexity- relate to better economic development today. To track these long-run effects, I construct a new dataset by digitising historiographical maps allowing me to pinpoint the geospatial location of ethnic homelands as of the XVI century. As a result, 375 ethnic homelands are created. I then capture the levels of economic development at the ethnic homeland level by making use of alternative economic measures --satellite light density data. After controlling for country-specific characteristics and applying a large battery of geographical, locational, and historical factors, I found that the effects of pre-colonial institutions relate to a higher light density --as a proxy for economic activity- in ethnic homelands where more advanced ethnic groups lived.

In Chapter 4, I explore a mechanism linking the persistence of pre-colonial institutions in Latin America over the long-run: Colonial and post-colonial strategies along with the ethnic political capacity worked in tandem allowing larger Amerindian groups to "support" the new political systems in ways that would benefit their respective ethnic groups as well as the population at large. This mechanism may have allowed the effects of pre-colonial institutions to influence socioeconomic development outcomes up to today. To shed lights on this mechanism, I combine the index of pre-colonial institutions prepared for the second chapter of the present thesis with individual-level survey data on people's attitudes. By controlling for key observable and unobservable country-specific characteristics, the main empirical results show that areas with a history of more advanced pre-colonial institutions increase the probability of individuals supporting present-day political institutions.

Finally, in Chapter 5, I summarise the main findings of the thesis, and emphasise the key weaknesses of the study as well as potential avenues for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Latin America, Institutions, Pre-colonial factors, Long-run development.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School
Funder's Name: National Council for Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACyT)
Supervisor's Name: Angeles, Dr. Luis
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Aldo Elizalde
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7561
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2016 15:41
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 12:35

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