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This paper investigates the empirical foundation for policy reform prescriptions suggested by the institutional approach to eco,nomic growth and development. The focus is the relationship between institutional reforms, measured by changes in a country's political rights or civil liberties, and economic growth. In addition to finding support for the idea that institutional • reforms can cause increases in economic growth, four major implications emerge: (i) the economic benefits of freedom reforms are systematic and significant, (ii) economic benefits, in the form of increased growth, occur with a substantial lag after the initiation of reforms in political rights or in civil liberties, (iii) types of reforms likely to be successful differ by geographic region of the world, and (iv) civil liberties are particularly advantageous to • economies in low growth years.


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