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Democracy and Growth: A Relationship Revisited

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  • Ludovic Comeau

    () (DePaul University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ludovic Comeau, 2003. "Democracy and Growth: A Relationship Revisited," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:29:y:2003:i:1:p:1-21
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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume29/V29N1P1_21.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
    2. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    3. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    4. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    5. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
    6. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
    7. de Haan, Jakob & Siermann, Clemens L J, 1995. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Impact of Democracy on Economic Growth," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 197-215.
    8. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
    9. Alesina, Alberto & Özler, Sule & Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    10. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Narayan, Paresh Kumar & Narayan, Seema & Smyth, Russell, 2011. "Does democracy facilitate economic growth or does economic growth facilitate democracy? An empirical study of Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 900-910, May.
    2. Madeeha Gohar Qureshi & Eatzaz Ahmed, 2012. "The Inter-linkages between Democracy and Per Capita GDP Growth: A Cross Country Analysis," PIDE-Working Papers 2012:85, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    3. Wafa Ghardallou & Abdelkader Boudriga, 2014. "Financial Development and Democracy: is the Relationship Non-Linear?," Working Papers 886, Economic Research Forum, revised Dec 2014.
    4. 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.
    5. Claude Diebolt & Tapas Mishra & Bazoumana Ouattara & Mamata Parhi, 2013. "Democracy and Economic Growth in an Interdependent World," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 733-749, September.
    6. Doucouliagos, Chris & Ulubasoglu, Mehmet Ali, 2006. "Economic freedom and economic growth: Does specification make a difference?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 60-81, March.
    7. Libman, Alexander, 2008. "Democracy and growth: is the effect non-linear?," MPRA Paper 17795, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Authoritarianism; Democracy; Growth; Political;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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