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Income and Democracy

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Simon Johnson
  • James Robinson
  • Pierre Yared

Abstract

We revisit one of the central empirical findings of the political economy literature that higher income per capita causes democracy. Existing studies establish a strong cross-country correlation between income and democracy, but do not typically control for factors that simultaneously affect both variables. We show that controlling for such factors by including country fixed effects removes the statistical association between income per capita and various measures of democracy. We also present instrumental-variables using two different strategies. These estimates also show no causal effect of income on democracy. Furthermore, we reconcile the positive cross-country correlation between income and democracy with the absence of a causal effect of income on democracy by showing that the long-run evolution of income and democracy is related to historical factors. Consistent with this, the positive correlation between income and democracy disappears, even without fixed effects, when we control for the historical determinants of economic and political development in a sample of former European colonies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11205.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Publication status: published as Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-42, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11205

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  1. Aart Kray & Jaume Ventura, 2001. "Comparative advantage and the cross-section of business cycles," Economics Working Papers 845, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Marianne Baxter, 1995. "International Trade and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2004. "Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 4458, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
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  6. Papaioannou, Elias & Siourounis, Gregorios, 2008. "Economic and social factors driving the third wave of democratization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 365-387, September.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Jaume Ventura, 2002. "The World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(2), pages 659-694, May.
  9. Aart Kraay & Jaume Ventura, 2007. "Comparative Advantage and the Cross-section of Business Cycles," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1300-1333, December.
  10. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
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  12. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," NBER Working Papers 6364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  14. Robert J. Barro, 1996. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 5698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," NBER Working Papers 11204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ricardo Hausmann & Lant Pritchett & Dani Rodrik, 2004. "Growth Accelerations," NBER Working Papers 10566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
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  20. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
  21. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521496032 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Income and Democracy
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-09-25 12:55:00
  2. Manuel Arellano recibe el premio Jaime I de Economía.
    by Cives in Politikon on 2012-06-05 17:13:35
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