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Democracy and Growth: A Relationship Revisited

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  • Ludovic Comeau

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    (DePaul University)

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    Abstract

    A considerable theoretical and empirical literature failed to reach consensus on the relevance of the nature of political regimes for economic performance. Research on democracy's effect on growth is inconclusive. At the same time, a few studies and cases find authoritarianism to display growth-enhancing attributes. This paper revisits the issue, finding that the debate severely lacks an appropriate description of pertinent characteristics of the sociopolitical environment. Using the framework of the neoclassical growth theory, a model is augmented with a more comprehensive representation of the political economy. It assumes a nonlinear relationship between regime type and economic growth, and introduces the concept of initial democratic capital. The results suggest that democracies are more conducive to growth, particularly in the presence of a tradition of democracy. Sociopolitical stability is also shown to be a necessary complementary condition. Economic freedom and high-level human capital are found favorable for growth. Democracy and economic freedom exhibit diminishing marginal returns for growth. The results are robust to different specifications of the model.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
    Pages: 1-21

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    Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:29:y:2003:i:1:p:1-21

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    Keywords: Authoritarianism; Democracy; Growth; Political;

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    1. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    2. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
    3. Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip & Ozler, Sule & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4553024, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    4. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 1996. " Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    5. Barro, Robert J, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-43, May.
    6. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
    7. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
    8. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    9. Martin C. McGuire & Mancur Olson Jr., 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule: The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
    10. de Haan, Jakob & Siermann, Clemens L J, 1995. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Impact of Democracy on Economic Growth," Empirical Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 197-215.
    11. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950-1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Libman, Alexander, 2008. "Democracy and growth: is the effect non-linear?," MPRA Paper 17795, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Doucouliagos, Chris & Ulubasoglu, Mehmet Ali, 2006. "Economic freedom and economic growth: Does specification make a difference?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 60-81, March.
    3. Paresh Narayan & Seema Narayan & Russell Smyth, 2007. "Does Democracy Facilitate Economic Growth Or Does Economic Growth Facilitate Democracy? An Empirical Study Of Sub-Saharan Africa," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series, Monash University, Department of Economics 10-07, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    4. Madeeha Gohar Qureshi & Eatzaz Ahmed, 2012. "The Inter-linkages between Democracy and Per Capita GDP Growth: A Cross Country Analysis," PIDE-Working Papers, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics 2012:85, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    5. Pääkkönen, Jenni, 2009. "Economic Freedom as a Driver for Growth in Transition," BOFIT Discussion Papers, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition 1/2009, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    6. Dasgupta, Shouro & Bhattacharya, Debapriya & Neethi, Dwitiya Jawher, 2013. "Does Democracy Impact Economic Growth? Exploring the Case of Bangladesh – A Cointegrated VAR Approach," MPRA Paper 56621, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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