Guns, Germs, and Slaves: an Alternative View of the Colonial Origins of Comparative Development


This paper shows that early colonial interactions between Europeans and indigenous populations, specifically the deaths of the latter, have long-term effects on economic development. We propose an alternative view on the historical origins of comparative development, arguing for links between pre-colonial conditions, colonial-era practices, and growth centuries later. We explore the decades of first contact between Europeans and the indigenous population for both violence against that population and the type of political-economic “regime” established. These violence and regime consequences affected the strength or weakness of property-protecting institutions, with the latter in turn influencing per capita income today.

Working Paper
Jean-Louis Arcand
Jean-Louis Arcand
Professor of Economics

My research interests include development economics, impact evaluation and nutrition and health.