Journal of Economics

, Volume 86, Supplement 1, pp 167–194

Geography and institutions: Plausible and implausible linkages

  • Ola Olsson

DOI: 10.1007/BF03051804

Cite this article as:
Olsson, O. J. Econ. (2005) 86: 167. doi:10.1007/BF03051804


In recent years, empirical investigations have shown that various aspects of physical geography are closely related to the quality of a country’s economic institutions. For instance, distance from the equator in latitude degrees is positively correlated to both institutional quality and to levels of economic development. In order to reach a better understanding for this type of regularities, this article reviews the growing empirical literature on geography and institutions, as well as a large body of older and newer theoretical works on the social impacts of geography. It is argued that the most plausible candidates for explaining the broadest cross-continental variance in institutional quality are those focusing on historical differences in biogeographical potential for early agriculture and on the importance of disease geography for European colonization strategy.



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© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ola Olsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsGoteborg UniversityGoteborgSweden