The Myth of the Frontier. In Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.. 2011.
Economic and Political Inequality in Development: The Case of Cundinamarca, Colombia. In Institutions and Economic Performance, 181-245. 1st ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.. 2008.
Why Do Voters Dismantle Checks and Balances?. Review of Economic Studies 80, no. 3: 845-875.. 2013.
Economics versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy Advice. Journal of Economic Perspectives 27, no. 2: 173-192.. 2013.
The Political Economy of Clientelism. Scandinavian Journal of Economics 115, no. 2: 260-291.. 2013.
The Monopoly of Violence: Evidence from Colombia. Journal of the European Economic Association 11, no. S1: 5-44.. 2013.
The Consequences of Radical Refrom: The French Revolution. American Economic Review 101, no. 7: 3286-3307.. 2011.
The Political Value of Land: Political Reform and Land Prices in Chile. American Journal of Political Science 56, no. 3: 601-619.. 2012.
The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Reply. American Economic Review 102, no. 6: 3077-3110.. 2012.
Political Centralization in Pre-Colonial Africa. Journal of Comparative Economics 41, no. 1: 534-564.. 2013.
Finding El Dorado: Slavery and Long-Run Development in Colombia. Journal of Comparative Economics 40, no. 4: 534-564.. 2012.
Colombia: Another 100 Years of Solitude? (plus the Spanish translation). Current History 112, no. 751: 43-48.. 2013.
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Civilian Control over the Military. Journal of the European Economic Association 8 , no. 2-3: 655–663.Abstract. 2010.
The question of who guards the guards is intimately connected with broader questions of state capacity and the establishment of a monopoly of violence in society, something which is often viewed as the defining feature of the modern state. But to establish such a monopoly, civilian rulers need not only to build an effective military, but also to control it. In this paper we study how governments may solve this problem when they recognize that their decisions to build a strong army may have ramifications for subsequent coups.
Political Conflict and Power Sharing in the Origins of Modern Colombia. Hispanic American Historical Review 89, no. 2: 285-321.. 2009.
Why is Africa Poor?. Economic History of Developing Regions 25, no. 1 June 2010: 21-50 .Abstract. 2010.
In this paper we take for granted that the poverty of Sub-Saharan Africa is to a large part explained by its political and economic institutions. As citizens Africans do not have the incentives to save and invest, as politicians they do not have the incentive to provide public goods. We focus on the issue of how Africa developed such institutions. Historically, no society had the types of institutions required for modern economic growth, though a few had elements of them for quite long periods. Growth arose when institutional transitions took place. We argue that the historical dynamics of institutions in Africa have been different. Processes of state formation seem to have been delayed relative to Eurasia, and state institutions appear to have been intensely absolutist and patrimonial. These initial institutions interacted in a perverse way with a series of shocks that hit Africa, in particular the slave trade in the early modern period, and colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Africa countries emerged at independence with a complex path dependent set of institutions that were probably even worse than those which they had at the time of colonization. It was these that precipitated authoritarianism, sustained economic decline and reinforced the poverty we see in Africa today.