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Why Doesn't Capitalism Flow to Poor Countries?

Author

Listed:
  • Rafael Di Tella

    (Harvard Business School)

  • Robert MacCulloch

    (Imperial College London)

Abstract

We find evidence consistent with the hypothesis that governments in poor countries have a more left wing rhetoric than those in OECD countries. A possible explanation is that corruption, which is more widespread in poor countries, reduces the electoral appeal of capitalism more than that of socialism. The empirical pattern of beliefs within countries is consistent with this explanation: people who perceive corruption to be high in the country are also more likely to lean left ideologically and to declare to support a more intrusive government in economic matters. Finally, we show that the corruption-left connection can be explained if corruption is seen as unfair behavior on the part of capitalists. Voters then react by moving left, even if this is materially costly to them. There is a negative ideological externality since the existence of corrupt entrepreneurs hurts good entrepreneurs by reducing the general appeal of capitalism.
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Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2009. "Why Doesn't Capitalism Flow to Poor Countries?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(1 (Spring), pages 285-332.
  • Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:40:y:2009:i:2009-01:p:285-332
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    Keywords

    macroeconomics; international; capitalism; regulation; poor countries;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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