What Really Matters for Long-term Growth and Development?
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What Really Matters for Long-term Growth and Development? A Re-Examination of the Deep Determinants of Per Capita Income. Dorian Owen and Clayton Weatherston University of Otago EDGES ‘Roads to Riches’ Workshop 15 November 2005. Introduction.

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What Really Matters for Long-term Growth and Development? A Re-Examination of the Deep Determinants of Per Capita Income

Dorian Owen and Clayton Weatherston

University of Otago

EDGES ‘Roads to Riches’ Workshop

15 November 2005


  • Average living standards in richest countries 100× those in poorest countries

  • Recent studies examine (very) parsimonious models to evaluate the overall and relative importance of hypothesized ‘deep’ determinants of economic development

  • Aims

    • To argue that much of this literature suffers from problems of ‘model uncertainty’

    • To outline an approach for re-examining the role of deep determinants

    • To present some preliminary results


  • Brief review of the literature on ‘deep’ determinants of cross-country income levels

    • Geography versus institutions

    • Instruments and inference

  • Criticisms focusing on model uncertainty and evidence of mis-specification

  • A general-to specific (Gets) approach

  • Preliminary results

  • Further work in progress

Growth determinants the conventional production function approach
Growth Determinants – the Conventional ‘Production Function’ Approach


Inputs Production Function Output

Physical Capital (K) Y = f(A, K, L, H, …) GDP (Y)

Labour (L)

Human Capital (H)

Technology (A)

‘Proximate determinants’

… but what determines the proximate determinants?

Deep determinants the contenders
Deep Determinants – the Contenders Function’ Approach

  • Geography

  • Institutions

    • Protecting property rights

    • Coordinating/enhancing investment (K, H)

    • Making governments/rulers accountable

  • ‘Openness’/Integration

  • Others – Culture, Ethnic/Linguistic/ Religious Composition

  • Characteristics: ‘Timescale’ criterion  relative constancy/persistence as a measure of ‘depth’. Not exogenous versus endogenous.

Geography hypothesis
Geography Hypothesis Function’ Approach

  • ‘Geography hypothesis’ includes direct and indirect effects

  • Geography Development

    • Climate

    • Ground surface

    • Geological

    • Bio-geography

  • Geography  Institutions  Development

    • E.g., Acemoglu et al (AER 2001) – high disease environment leads to ‘extractive’ colonies and ‘bad’ institutions, which impede long-term development

Institutions hypothesis
Institutions Hypothesis Function’ Approach

  • Institutions  Development

    • “institutions in society … are the underlying determinant of the long-run performance of economies” (North 1990)

  • ‘Good institutions’: main focus on contract enforcement, protection of property rights, rule of law (‘market-creating’), covering broad cross section of society

  • Development of institutions:

    • Legal origin

    • Endowments: any effect of geography is only via indirect effect on institutions

Measures of deep determinants
Measures of Deep Determinants Function’ Approach

  • Geographical variables

    • Latitude, Average mean temperature, % land area within 100km of coast, axis, frost days, etc

    • Proportion of popn at risk from malaria

  • Institutional variables

    • ICRG survey indicators of investors’ risk

    • World Bank survey assessments of govt effectiveness (including Rule of Law)

    • Polity IV – constraints on executive

      Reflect ‘outcomes’ more than durable ‘constraints’, are volatile, and increase with per capita income (Glaeser et al, 2004)

Example study rodrik et al j econ growth 2004
Example study: Function’ ApproachRodrik et al. (J Econ Growth, 2004)

ln y = m + aINS + bINT + gGEO + e1

y = GDP per cap 1995

INS = ‘rule of law’ index

INT = ln(nominal trade/nominal GDP)

GEO = abs(latitude)

  • Potentially complicated set of interlinkages

  • INS and INT potentially endogenous

  • Use of Function’ Approachinstrumental variables estimation (2SLS)

    INS = l+ dSM + fln(FR) + jGEO + e2

    INT = q+ tSM + sln(FR) + wGEO + e3

    SM = ln(settler mortality)

    ln(FR) = ln(Frankel & Romer measure of constructed trade shares)

    GEO = abs(latitude) – exogenous regressor in GDP per capita equation

  • Instrumental Variables Estimation requires ‘valid’ instruments:

    • Instrument relevance – variables in X need to be highly correlated with the endogenous deep determinant, say INS.

    • Instrument exogeneity – X variables need to be uncorrelated with the model’s error term, e – if not, estimates are inconsistent

    • Key problem – exogeneity fails if instruments affect income via other channels or are correlated with omitted variables

Key instrument
Key Instrument instruments:

  • Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson(AER, 2001): Europeans adopted different colonisation strategies in different colonies: ‘settler’ versus ‘extractive’ colonies

    Colonisation mode = f(disease environment) High settler mortality  extractive colonies

    Low settler mortality  settler colonies

    (Potential) settler mortality  settlement type  early institutions  current institutions  current economic performance

Initial consensus
Initial Consensus instruments:

Primacy of institutions – although geographic conditions affect development (income per capita) they do so only through their impact on the development of institutions

  • Acemoglu, Johnson & Robinson (AER 2001)

  • Easterly and Levine (J Monetary Econ 2003)

  • Rodrik, Subramanian &Trebbi (J Econ Growth 2004)

    Later studies provide conflicting results

  • Sachs (NBER WP2003)

  • Olsson and Hibbs (EER 2005)

Model uncertainty
Model Uncertainty instruments:

  • Brock and Durlauf (2001) critique of cross-country empirical growth literature:

    • Violations of assumptions required for estimation by OLS and interpretation as a structural model

    • ‘Open-endedness’ of theories - validity of one causal theory does not imply falsity of another. OK if regressors orthogonal but not with a high degree of collinearity between potential regressors

    • ‘Model uncertainty’  likely sensitivity of coefficient estimates and t-values to ‘other’ regressors under such conditions

  • Open-endedness of growth theories also has implications for the validity of instrumental variable methods  predetermined variables may not be valid instruments if correlated with omitted variables

  • Problem – don’t know which variables are relevant, due to open-endedness of theories and range of different feasible mechanisms

  • Also, parameter heterogeneity in cross-country samples. Cross-section estimates best interpreted as ‘average effects’ - Temple (JEL, 1999) but need to look out for evidence of parameter heterogeneity

Replication of key existing studies
Replication of Key Existing Studies the validity of instrumental variable methods

Key issues apparent in Table:

  • Choice of regressors (range of proxies) varies

  • Control for openness – some do, some don’t; other exogenous regressors also vary

  • Evidence of mis-specification (tests for RESET, normality, hetero)

  • Parameter constancy

  • Choice of instruments - Over-identification tests

  • Not congruent or encompassing – ‘illustrate’ rather than test competing theories

Why use a general to specific gets approach
Why Use a the validity of instrumental variable methods General-to-Specific (Gets) Approach?

  • Theory relatively ‘loose’ – admits a wide range of candidate regressors, e.g., different geographical mechanisms, interactions

  • Model selection important – untested exclusion restrictions. ‘Open-ended theory’ problem

  • Impressive Monte Carlo results for overall PcGets algorithm

  • Applicable to cross-section data (Hoover & Perez, Oxford Bulletin 2004)

General unrestricted model gum
General Unrestricted Model (GUM) the validity of instrumental variable methods

  • ln(GDP per capita) = f(Const, PhysGeog,

    Climate, BioGeog, Resources, Institutions,

    Integration, Culture, e)

    Vectors of different factors representing PhysGeog, Climate, etc

    PhysGeog = (Axis, Size, Land100km, Mount)

    Climate=(MeanTemp, Latitude,TempRange,


BioGeog the validity of instrumental variable methods = (Malfal, Plants, Animals)

Resources = (Crop and Mineral dummies)

Institutions = (Exprop, ExConst, Plurality)

Integration = (YrsOpen)

Culture = (EthnicFrac, LingFrac, ReligFrac,

Catholic, Muslim)

Illustrative ols results
Illustrative OLS Results the validity of instrumental variable methods







Malfal FROST oil LangFrac


Gets ‘testimation’




Coefficient t-value t-prob reliable the validity of instrumental variable methods

Constant 6.33030 16.913 0.0000 1.0000

MOUNT -0.01201 -3.187 0.0023 1.0000

Malfal -0.99967 -5.888 0.0000 1.0000

FROST 0.69508 2.755 0.0078 1.0000

EXPROP 0.27445 5.398 0.0000 1.0000

CATH 0.00536 3.098 0.0030 1.0000

YRSOPEN 0.74580 3.286 0.0017 1.0000

oil 0.39362 2.507 0.0149 0.7000

R^2 = 0.84731 Radj^2 = 0.82920

N = 67 FpNull = 0.00000 FpGUM = 0.97713

value prob

Chow(34:1) F( 34, 25) 0.7581 0.7764

Chow(61:1) F( 7, 52) 0.6827 0.6859

normality test chi^2( 2) 1.8437 0.3978

hetero test chi^2( 13) 18.3188 0.1458

Iv estimates final model
IV estimates – final model the validity of instrumental variable methods

Coefficient t-value t-prob reliable

Constant 6.54184 0.654 0.0000 1.0000

MOUNT -0.01227 -3.016 0.0038 1.0000

FROST 0.64326 2.177 0.0335 1.0000

CATH 0.00475 2.629 0.0109 1.0000

oil 0.40337 2.510 0.0148 0.7000

Malfal* -1.13708 -5.603 0.0000 1.0000

EXPROP* 0.25820 2.850 0.0060 1.0000

YRSOPEN* 0.70794 2.042 0.0456 1.0000

R^2 = 0.84555 Radj^2 = 0.82722

N = 67 FpNull = 0.00000 FpGUM = 0.99766


Sargan test: chi^2(16) = 13.0364 [0.6701]

chi^2( 4) = 7.4498 [0.9636]

value prob

normality test chi^2( 2) 1.3034 0.5212

hetero test chi^2( 13) 17.9626 0.1589

Conclusions and further work
Conclusions and Further Work the validity of instrumental variable methods

1. Model uncertainty and mis-specification (lack of congruence) are problems with existing studies

2. A Gets approach can address these issues

3. Preliminary results suggest that institutions are not all that matters and that geographical variables as well as openness and aspects of culture exert an independent influence on per capita income levels

4. Examining sensitivity of results to variable definition and choice of instruments

5. Ideal would be to select instruments and regressors simultaneously as part of the Gets modelling process (Hendry and Krolzig, EJ 2005)