To achieve peace, the authors stress the avoidance of repressive government and civil conflict. Easy taxes, they argue, refers not to low taxes, but a tax system with widespread compliance that collects taxes at a reasonable cost from a broad base, like income. And a tolerable administration of justice is about legal infrastructure that can support the enforcement of contracts and property rights in line with the rule of law. The authors show that countries tend to enjoy all three pillars of prosperity when they have evolved cohesive political institutions that promote common interests, guaranteeing the provision of public goods. In line with much historical research, international conflict has also been an important force behind effective states by fostering common interests. The absence of common interests and/or cohesive political institutions can explain the existence of very different development clusters in fragile states that are plagued by poverty, violence, and weak state capacity.
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The narrative of development economics is now infused with discussions of institutions. Economists debate whether institutions—or other factors altogether (geography, culture, or religion)—are central to development. In this volume, leading scholars in development economics view institutions from a microeconomic perspective, offering both theoretical overviews and empirical analyses spanning three continents. After substantial introductory chapters by Pranab Bardhan and Marcel Fafchamps, two scholars who have published important work on this topic, each of the remaining chapters examines a particular set of institutions in a unique setting. These chapters treat the effects of Angola's violent conflict on that country's development; institutional accountability in Uganda; the effect of Indonesia's ethnic diversity on the distribution of public goods; the impact of trade liberalization on India's investment climate; extended family networks in Mexico; and a microeconomic perspective on land rights in Ethiopia. The chapters demonstrate the remarkable heterogeneity of institutions—policy change is mediated through local market institutions, government institutions, and families—as well as the empirical and methodological ingenuity of current research into this crucial topic.
Manuela Angelucci, Oriana Bandiera, Pranab Bardhan, Timothy Besley, Martina Björkman, Robin Burgess, Giacomo De Giorgi, Stefan Dercon, Marcel Fafchamps, Rajshri Jayaraman, Pramila Krishnan, Eliana La Ferrara, Gilat Levy, Marcos A. Rangel, Imram Rasul, Ritva Reinikka, Jakob Svensson