Institutional Economics

Numerous theories have been constructed to provide reasons for economic growth differences between countries. As data became more readily available, cross-country empirical studies identified a set of variables that contributed to economic growth, including variables such as the investment in human and physical capital. Although most of the identified variables provide some support to economic growth, they still do not fully explain all growth differences. Furthermore, the analysis of these variables does not disclose, for instance, why two countries receiving the same amount of aid would spend it differently. The New Institutional Economics (NIE) accepts the importance of the variables identified, but extends the analysis of growth differences between countries to the link between policy choices and economic growth.

In the NIE literature it is widely accepted that policies should support the minimisation of transaction costs and the protection of property rights. It asks the question of what lies behind different policy decisions and explores why different countries take different routes to growth and development (or alternatively to economic stagnation). Policies originate as formal institutions, i.e. the "rules of the game". These formal institutions come into being due to various reasons and are mostly in support of groups in society that have the power to influence decision-making. Important also are the informal institutions, which encompass the culture, norms and codes of conduct that have been present for some time in the specific country. The effect of different existing informal institutions makes it impossible to duplicate formal institutions between countries and expect these formal institutions to lead to the same outcome.

Module presenters: Krige Siebrits and Sophia du Plessis

Course outline (Honours)

Course outline (Master's)

Please note that this module is not presented every year, but in alternate years (the module was presented in 2022 and will be presented again in 2024). 

BER Weekly

27 March 2023
In a holiday-shortened week for SA, there was plenty to digest, starting with the EFF’s planned shutdown on Monday, which amid a poor turnout was ‘downgraded’ to a stayaway. Two other noteworthy local developments were a higher-than-expected February CPI inflation print and another increase in government’s salary hike offer to public sector workers....

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