Working Paper

Geography, Development, and Power: Parliament Leaders and Local Economies

Date Published

Mar 2, 2022


John Cruzatti C., Christian Bjørnskov, Andrea Sáenz de Viteri



Cruzatti C, J., Bjørnskov, C., Sáenz de Viteri, A. (2022). Geography, Development, and Power: Parliament Leaders and Local Economies. Working Paper #115. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.


While formal institutions are considered rather stable in Western countries, the same can not be said of those in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). This paper explores how the development of subnational regions is affected by their proximity to parliament leaders’ birthplaces. We collected data on 366 political leaders’ birth locations over 1992–2016 and constructed a panel of approximately 183,000 subnational micro-regions across 45 LAC countries/autonomous territories. Our results show that incumbent parliament leaders favor regions near their birthplaces, as measured by night light emissions and World Bank aid. This favoritism is informed by the de jure and de facto influence given to the parliament by the particularly unstable Constitutions of LAC countries.

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