Economics focus What matters most for development—geography, institutions or policy? Oct 3rd 2002 | From the print edition ECONOMIC growth in poor countries, it seems reasonable to suppose, depends

Economics focus What matters most for development—geography, institutions or policy? Oct 3rd 2002 | From the print edition ECONOMIC growth in poor countries, it seems reasonable to suppose, depends on getting lots of different things right, and probably on a generous measure of good luck as well. Is it possible to say which factor or factors matter most? For many years economists emphasised the importance of good economic policy (though often disagreeing about which policies were good and which not so good). Lately, it has become orthodox to stress the importance of long-lived “institutions” that are conducive to growth: political stability, property rights, legal systems, patterns of land tenure, and so on. Other economists instead put great weight on geography, especially climate (which affects the incidence of disease, the applicability of some technologies, agricultural opportunities, and more) and access to the sea (which affects the scope for international integration).

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