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Income and Democracy

  • Acemoglu, Daron
  • Johnson, Simon
  • Robinson, James A
  • Yared, Pierre

We revisit one of the central empirical findings of the political economy literature that higher income per capita causes democracy. Existing studies establish a strong cross-country correlation between income and democracy, but do not typically control for factors that simultaneously affect both variables. We show that controlling for such factors by including country fixed effects removes the statistical association between income per capita and various measures of democracy. We also present instrumental-variables estimates using two different strategies. These estimates also show no causal effect of income on democracy. Furthermore, we reconcile the positive cross-country correlation between income and democracy with the absence of a causal effect of income on democracy by showing that the long-run evolution of income and democracy is related to historical factors. Consistent with this, the positive correlation between income and democracy disappears, even without fixed effects, when we control for the historical determinants of economic and political development in a sample of former European colonies.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5273.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5273
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2002. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Aart Kraay & Jaume Ventura, 2001. "Comparative Advantage and the Cross-section of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 8104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  4. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  7. Ricardo Hausmann & Lant Pritchett & Dani Rodrik, 2005. "Growth Accelerations," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 303-329, December.
  8. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2004. "Institutions As The Fundamental Cause Of Long-Run Growth," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 002889, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  10. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  11. Papaioannou, Elias & Siourounis, Gregorios, 2008. "Economic and social factors driving the third wave of democratization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 365-387, September.
  12. Marianne Baxter, 1995. "International Trade and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. M Arellano & O Bover, 1990. "Another Look at the Instrumental Variable Estimation of Error-Components Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp0007, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Jaume Ventura, 2001. "The World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
  17. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
  18. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  19. Barro, Robert J., 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Scholarly Articles 3451297, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 44-49, May.
  21. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
  22. Robert J. Barro, 1998. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522543, March.
  23. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
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