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Democracy and Growth: A Relationship Revisited

  • Ludovic Comeau

    ()

    (DePaul University)

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    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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    File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume29/V29N1P1_21.pdf
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    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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    1. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Sule Ozler & Nouriel Roubini & Phillip Swagel, 1992. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Edward E. Leamer, 1982. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," UCLA Economics Working Papers 239, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    6. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. 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, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
    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, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
    10. 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.
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