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Caribbean Region Quarterly Bulletin Institutions and Trust: A Caribbean Perspective

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Technical Report
This report is part of an IDB technical note series on crime and violence in the Caribbean. The overall aim is to establish a baseline of the crime prevention arena against which progress can be assessed. The report compiles the available data from multiple sources in order to provide a diagnostic of the size, characteristics and changing nature of problem in Barbados in recent years. In addition, the report provides a survey of the various crime prevention and suppression policies, programs and projects adopted by government, private and non-governmental organisations. In performing the above-mentioned tasks, the report offers an assessment of the data collection, analysis and crime response capabilities in Barbados, and makes suggestions about the most effective way forward.
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Levels of economic development vary widely within countries in the Americas. We argue that part of this variation has its roots in the colonial era. Colonizers engaged in different economic activities in different regions of a country, depending on local conditions. Some activities, such as mining and sugar cultivation, were “bad” in the sense that they depended heavily on the exploitation of labor and led to a low development path, while “good” activities led to a high development path. We show that areas with bad colonial activities have lower output per capita today than areas with good colonial activities. Areas with high pre-colonial population density also do worse today. Moreover, the positive effect of “good” activities goes away in areas with high pre-colonial population density. We attribute this to the “ugly” fact that colonizers used the pre-colonial population as an exploitable resource, thereby also leading to a low development path. Our results suggest that differences in political representation and in the current ethnic composition of the population (but not differences in human capital or income inequality) could be the intermediating factors between colonial activities and current development.
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This paper reports updated measures of transparency and independence for more than 100 central banks. The indices show that there has been steady movement in the direction of greater transparency and independence over time. In addition, we show that outcomes such as the variability of inflation are significantly affected by both central bank transparency and independence. Disentangling the impact of the two dimensions of central bank arrangements remains difficult, however.
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In the West are the 'haves', while much of the rest of the world are the 'have-nots'. The extent of inequality today is unprecedented. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, Why Nations Fail looks at the root of the problems facing some nations. Economists and scientists have offered useful insights into the reasons for certain aspects of poverty, such as Jeffrey Sachs (it's geography and the weather), and Jared Diamond (it's technology and species). But most theories ignore the incentives and institutions that populations need to invest and prosper: they need to know that if they work hard, they can make money and actually keep it - and the key to ensuring these incentives is sound institutions. Incentives and institutions are what separate the have and have-nots. Based on fifteen years of research, and stepping boldly into the territory of Ian Morris's Why the West Rules - For Now, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson blend economics, politics, history and current affairs to provide a new, persuasive way of understanding wealth and poverty. And, perhaps most importantly, they provide a pragmatic basis for the hope that those mired in poverty can be placed on the path to prosperity.
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We exploit differences in European mortality rates to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and were more likely to set up extractive institutions. These institutions persisted to the present. Exploiting differences in European mortality rates as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capita. Once the effect of institutions is controlled for, countries in Africa or those closer to the equator do not have lower incomes. (JEL O11, P16, P51).
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This paper evaluates the importance of property rights institutions', which protect citizens against expropriation by the government and powerful elites, and contracting institutions', which enable private contracts between citizens. We exploit exogenous variation in both types of institutions driven by colonial history, and document strong first-stage relationships between property rights institutions and the determinants of European colonization (settler mortality and population density before colonization), and between contracting institutions and the identity of the colonizing power. Using this instrumental variables strategy, we find that property rights institutions have a first-order effect on long-run economic growth, investment, and financial development. Contracting institutions appear to matter only for the form of financial intermediation. A possible interpretation for this pattern is that individuals often find ways of altering the terms of their formal and informal contracts to avoid the adverse effects of contracting institutions but are unable to do so against the risk of expropriation.
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This paper opens with a discussion of the types of institutions that allow markets to perform adequately. While we can identify in broad terms what these are, there is no unique mapping between markets and the non-market institutions that underpin them. The paper emphasizes the importance of local knowledge' and argues that a strategy of institution building must not over-emphasize best-practice blueprint' at the expense of experimentation. Participatory political systems are the most effective ones for processing and aggregating local knowledge. Democracy is a meta-institution for building good institutions. A range of evidence indicates that participatory democracies enable higher-quality growth.
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Successful development policy entails an understanding of the dynamics of economic change if the policies pursued are to have the desired consequences. And a dynamic model of economic change entails as an integral part of that model analysis of the polity since it is the polity that specifies and enforces the formal rules. While we are still some distance from having such a model the structure that is evolving in the new institutional economics, even though incomplete, suggests radically different development policies than those of either traditional development economists or orthodox neo- classical economists. Development economists have typically treated the state as either exogenous or as a benign actor in the development process. Neo-classical economists have implicitly assumed that institutions (economic as well as political) don't matter and that the static analysis embodied in allocative-efficiency models should be the guide to policy; that is "getting the prices right" by eliminating exchange and price controls. In fact the state can never be treated as an exogenous actor in development policy and getting the prices right only has the desired consequences when you already have in place a set of property rights and enforcement that will then produce the competitive conditions that will result in efficient markets.
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The Abolition of User Fees in the Jamaican Public Health System
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