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Political Competition and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence from the United States

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  • Timothy Besley
  • Torsten Persson
  • Daniel Sturm

Abstract

One of the most cherished propositions in economics is that market competition by and large raises consumer welfare. But whether political competition has similarly virtuous consequences is far less discussed. This paper formulates a model to explain why political competition may enhance economic performance and uses the United States as a testing ground for the model's implications. It finds statistically robust evidence that political competition has quantitatively important effects on state income growth, state policies, and the quality of Governors.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11484.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11484

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  1. Krusell, Per & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 301-29, April.
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  5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  6. Wright, Gavin, 1987. "The Economic Revolution in the American South," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 161-78, Summer.
  7. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli, 2001. "Bad Politicians," NBER Working Papers 8532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
  10. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  11. George Stigler, 1972. "Economic competition and political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 91-106, September.
  12. Osborne, Martin J & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96, February.
  13. Michele Polo, . "Electoral competition and political rents," Working Papers 144, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  14. Francesco Caselli & Gerardo Esquivel & Fernando Lefort, 1997. "Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 03, Central Bank of Chile.
  15. Wright, Gavin, 1999. "The Civil Rights Revolution as Economic History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(02), pages 267-289, June.
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  1. Human Capital Follows the Thermometer
    by Edward L. Glaeser in Economix on 2011-04-19 06:00:00
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