Research roundup: New NBER papers on development and politics

There’s an unually (and terrifically) high number of research papers on development and politics being released from the NBER this week.

  • Naritomi, Soares and Assunção argue that variation in institutional quality across Brazilian municipalities is partly inherited from the distinct colonial histories (and resource extraction booms) experienced by different areas of the country.
  • Milanovic, Lindert and Williamson take a stab at measuring income inequality in the pre-industrial world, suggesting that ancient societies are more equal than societies today, but that today we are further from our potential inequality than our forebearers were.
  • Feenstra and Hong suggest that while Chinese exports have grown like gangbusters, most of the boom in employment has come from rises in domestic demand. China is growing from within, not from without as is often assumed.
  • Edlin, Gelman and Kaplan try to overcome the paradox of voting by arguing that people view voting as a potential contribution to the general good, and the larger the jurisdiction in which the election applies, the larger the potential effect of the election outcome on the general welfare.
  • Although not directly development focused, Currie and Gahvari’s review of the theory and evidence for providing cash versus in-kind goods to the poor is interesting and highly relevant to aid dibursement at the micro-level.

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