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The Wig and the Pith Helmet - the Impact of "Legal School" versus Colonial Institutions on Economic Performance (second version)


The difference between common law and French civil law countries fails to have a statistically significant effect on economic growth, whereas the difference between British and French colonies has a strong effect when the two pairs of institutional variables are included separately in regressions. Moreover, when both pairs of variables are included together, the impact of the difference in legal school becomes highly insignificant, whereas the difference in colonial origin continues to be highly significant. Throughout we control for fundamental environmental and historical variables. Thus, we find that certain objective markers of historically based institutional differences do have an important impact on economic growth. We also find evidence that the incidence of malaria is endogenous to economic development. Our results have implications  for the "geography vs. institutions" and "policies vs. institutions" debates on the deep determinants of economic growth.