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Democracy and Development: Friends or Foes?



This paper reconsiders a long-held view that democracy is a hindrance to economic development, at least in its early stages, and, further, that authoritarianism works better than democracy, because it allows the state to mobilize more effectively the resources necessary for industrial take-off. The different experiences of India and China would appear to reinforce this conventional wisdom. The Economist sums it up thus: A proudly democratic India that grows at 6% a year should be congratulated for having succeeded better than a brutal anti-democratic China which grows at 10% a year. I suggest reasons to be sceptical of this view, and argue, to the contrary, that democracy will, in the medium to longer run, promote, rather, than retard, economic development, and predict that the future experiences of India and China may bear this out. This is quite apart from the philosophical consideration that democracy and liberty are intrinsic, not merely instrumental, to the process of development.

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  • Vivek H. Dehejia, 2007. "Democracy and Development: Friends or Foes?," Carleton Economic Papers 07-11, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:07-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jagdish Bhagwati, 1995. "Democracy and Development: New Thinking on an Old Question," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 1-18, January.
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    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development


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