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Office-Selling, Corruption, and Long-Term Development in Peru


The paper uses a unique hand-collected dataset of the prices at which the Spanish Crown sold colonial provincial governorships in seventeenth and eighteenth century Peru to examine the impact of colonial officials on long-run development. Combining provincial characteristics with exogenous variation in appointment criteria due to the timing of European wars, I first show that provinces with greater extraction potential tended to fetch higher prices and attract worse buyers. In the long run, these high-priced provinces have lower household consumption, schooling, and public good provision. The type of governors ruling these provinces likely exacerbated political conflict, ethnic segregation, and undermined institutional trust among the population.

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Jenny Guardado is an Assistant Professor, Georgetown University, 3700 O St. NW, ICC 484 (
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I am grateful to Scott Abramson, Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Oeindrila Dube, Sanford Gordon, Jens Hainmueller, Noel Johnson, Mark Koyama, Horacio Larreguy, Steven Pennings, Adam Przeworski, Pablo Querubin, Shanker Satyanath, David Stasavage, Leonard Wantchekon, Tianyang Xi, and seminar participants at LSE, Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill, Georgetown, UChicago—Harris School, UChicago—Politics, Stanford, George Mason, Princeton, UCSD, Emory, ITAM, and conference participants of the 2016 Ridge-LACEA PEG Workshop, 2014 Empirical Political Economy Network Conference, 2014 International Economics Association, 2013 Northeast University Development Consortium (NEUDC), 2013 American Political Science Association Conference, 2013 International Society for New Institutional Economics, 2013 Alexander Hamilton Conference, 2013 Midwest Political Science Association Conference, 10th Midwest International Economic Development Conference, NYU Dissertation Seminar as well as three anonymous referees for valuable comments on this paper. All remaining errors are my own. Replication files are available on the American Political Science Review Dataverse:

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