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Courting Economic Development
The World Bank Economic Review
  • James R. Brown, Iowa State University
  • J. Anthony Cookson, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Rawley Z. Heimer, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
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We show that court enforcement uncertainty hinders economic development using sharp variation in judiciaries across Native American reservations in the United States. Congressional legislation passed in 1953 assigned state courts the authority to resolve civil disputes on a subset of reservations, while tribal courts retained authority on unaffected reservations. Although affected and unaffected reservations had similar economic conditions when the law passed, reservations under state courts experienced significantly greater long-run growth. When we examine the distribution of incomes across reservations, the average difference in development is due to the lower incomes of the most impoverished reservations with tribal courts. We show that the relative under-development of reservations with tribal courts is driven by reservations with the most uncertainty in court enforcement.

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in The World Bank Economic Review following peer review. The version of record Courting Economic Development (with T. Cookson and R. Heimer). 2017. World Bank Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings of the 26th Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics, 30 (Supplement_1), S176-S187. is available online at: DOI: 10.1093/wber/lhw027. Posted with permission.

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James R. Brown, J. Anthony Cookson and Rawley Z. Heimer. "Courting Economic Development" The World Bank Economic Review Vol. 30 Iss. 1 (2017) p. S176 - S187
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