The impact of simple institutions in experimental economies with poverty traps

C. Mónica Capra, Tomomi Tanaka, Colin F. Camerer, Lauren Feiler, Veronica Sovero, Charles N. Noussair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We introduce an experimental approach to study the effect of institutions on economic growth. In each period, agents produce and trade output in a market, and allocate it to consumption and investment. Productivity is higher if total capital stock is above a threshold. The threshold externality generates two steady states - a suboptimal 'poverty trap' and an optimal steady state. In a baseline treatment, the economies converge to the poverty trap. However, the ability to make public announcements or to vote on competing and binding policies, increases output, welfare and capital stock. Combining these two simple institutions guarantees that the economies escape the poverty trap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-1009
Number of pages33
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number539
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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