Economic imperialism

by Henry Farrell on January 11, 2011

Over at his “other blog-digs”:, Kieran is looking for suggestions for a course syllabus on Markets and Moral Order. By sheer coincidence, when browsing Daron Acemoglu’s “web page”: today, out of curiosity to see how many new papers he had written this month, I noticed that Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson apparently had a piece that was directly on topic. It’s entitled a ‘Reply to the Revised (May 2006) version of David Albouy’s “The Colonial Origins of Comparitive Development: An Investigation of the Settler Morality Data.’ Sadly, the link seems to lead to a quite different (and rather duller) piece about death rates. Nor, despite some efforts, have I been able to establish precisely which instrumental variable Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson are using as a proxy for the morality of European settlers in Africa during the colonial period – presumably, this time it isn’t “mosquitoes”:, despite the tempting analogies. Suggestions for possible such variables gratefully received in comments.



Bill Harshaw 01.11.11 at 7:37 pm

Don’t the good die young, making mortality rates a good proxy for morality.


Junius Ponds 01.11.11 at 7:39 pm

One might think the number of Franciscan missions would be an acceptable proxy for morality, but the Spanish example in the New World makes us think again.


Kieran Healy 01.11.11 at 7:40 pm

Whoops, I just posted the syllabus thing right on top of this.


Ken Houghton 01.11.11 at 8:07 pm

The “reply to Albouy” link seemed to work for me, but then again, when I see “An Investigation of the Settler Morality Data,” I kinda expect “a piece about death rates,” and assume dullness to be de rigueur for the second round of a debate.

That said, if you tried adding it to the above-referenced syllabus, I’m inclined to argue that the students would be correct to be revolting.


Henry 01.11.11 at 8:36 pm

Hi Ken – it’s a joke – read the post (and the web page) carefully for a missing letter in one of the words …


tadhgin 01.11.11 at 8:40 pm

and in fairness.. he even spells his own name wrong – see:

Cascades in Networks and Aggregate Volatility
Daron Acemogluy
Asuman Ozdaglarz
Alireza Tahbaz–Salehi
October 2010


William Sjostrom 01.13.11 at 6:54 pm

Sigh. Acemoglu depresses me. It used to just be Richard Posner, but now Acemoglu writes faster than I can read. He makes me feel unemployed.

Comments on this entry are closed.