Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Economics

First Advisor's Name

Cem Karayalcin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Sneh Gulati

Third Advisor's Name

Sheng Guo

Fourth Advisor's Name

Peter Thompson

Date of Defense

9-10-2012

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the effects of political and economic institutions on economic development and growth. The first essay develops an overlapping-generations political economy model to analyze the incentives of various social groups to finance human capital accumulation through public education expenditures. The contribution of this study to the literature is that it helps explain the observed differences in the economic growth performance of natural resource-abundant countries. The results suggest that the preferred tax rates of the manufacturers on one hand and the political coalition of manufacturers and landowners, on the other hand, are equal to the socially optimal tax rate. However, we show that owners of natural resources prefer an excessively high tax rate, which suppresses aggregate output to a suboptimal level.

The second essay examines the relationship between the political influence of different social classes and public education spending in panel data estimation. The novel contribution of this paper to the literature is that I proxy the political power and influence of the natural resource owners, manufacturers, and landowners with macroeconomic indicators. The motivation behind this modeling choice is to substantiate the definition of the political power of social classes with economic fundamentals. I use different governance indicators in the estimations to find out how different institutions mediate the overall impact of the political influence of various social classes on public education spending. The results suggest that political stability and absence of violence and rule of law are the important governance indicators.

The third essay develops a counter argument to Acemoglu et al. (2010) where the thesis is that French institutions and economic reforms fostered economic progress in those German regions invaded by the Napoleonic armies. By providing historical data on urbanization rates used as proxies for economic growth, I demonstrate that similar different rates of economic growth were observed in the regions of France in the post- Napoleonic period as well. The existence of different economic growth rates makes it hard to argue that the differences in economic performance in the German regions that were invaded by the French and those that were spared a similar fate follow from regional differences in economic institutions.

Identifier

FI12110705

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