Building on the work of Raufhon Salahodjaev* (coauthored with Boris Nikolaev (Nikolaev and Salahodjaev (2017)), who show that economic freedom has its origins in the historical prevalence of infectious diseases across countries, Bennett and Nikolaev (2019) use historical disease pathogens as an instrumental variable for economic freedom. The method of Nikolaev and Salahodjaev (2017) helps to understand the cross-national differences in Economic Freedom.
As Nikolaev and Salahodjaev explain, “the historical prevalence of infectious diseases … shaped cultural values associated with collectivism … which, in turn, led to the development of economic institutions that are inconsistent with the principles of economic freedom” (2017: 124)
Featured in the Economic Freedom of the World Report for 2019 (Chapter 4, page 199, Economic Freedom, Public Policy, & Entrepreneurship):
*Raufhon Salahodjaev is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Policy Research and Outreach (cpro.wiut.uz).