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International Max Planck Research School
on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy

Irina Rosa España Eljaiek

Actors, Institutional Change and Reproduction: The Colombian Case of Racial Exclusion and Local Socio-economic Performance 1886–1950

Studies on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy. IMPRS-SPCE, Cologne 2017.
This research analyzes the effects of an informal exclusionary institution on local socio-economic outcomes. Specifically, focusing on the Afro-descendant population, it analyzes the effects of the informal institution of racial exclusion on local socio-economic outcomes in Colombia in the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.
The study pursues two major research aims. First, I identify the effect of racial exclusion on socio-economic outcomes. Second, I study how racial exclusion and socio-economic outcomes are causally linked. In other words, I identify a theoretical mechanism. In order to accomplish these research aims, I take a multimethod approach. I use quantitative techniques to estimate the effects of racial exclusion on socio-economic outcomes, and I apply qualitative theory-building process-tracing to identify a theoretical mechanism between racial exclusion and socio-economic outcomes – namely, public good provision.
The quantitative results show that racial exclusion has negative effects on socio-economic outcomes in the Colombian case. They indicate that municipalities with a higher share of Afro-descendant individuals have a lower provision of public goods for development, and a lower level of economic performance. The qualitative analysis identifies a theoretical “mechanism of reaction” between the informal exclusionary institution and local socio-economic outcomes. According to this hypothesis, the informal institution of racial exclusion shapes three specific actors: non-aggrieved actors, mid-aggrieved actors, and aggrieved actors, all of whom react to the exclusionary institution by displaying five different types of behavior: adoption, adaptation, non-cooperation, revision, and contestation of the informal exclusionary institution. These types of behavior, in turn, either alter or reinforce the informal exclusionary institution. The results indicate that alterations and reinforcements have effects on socio-economic outcomes when actors’ behavior is related to initiatives for the local political economy of public good provision. Hence, behavior such as adoption, adaptation, and non-cooperation facilitates low public good provision. In contrast, revision and contestation tend to facilitate effective initiatives for better public good provision.


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