How does external debt impact democratization? Evidence from developing countries
In this paper we empirically discuss whether or not external debt affects country’s governance. Indeed, indebted countries need some political governance reforms in order to send out a positive signal to international financial community and investors; and so improving business climate. However, external debt reduces their flexibility and ability to address associated costs to political governance. Our study focuses on the period 1985-2011 and spans 103 developing countries. To deal with endogeneity issue, we first lag external debt by one year and second propose two-step tobit estimator by instrumenting external debt-to-GDP ratio with real effective exchange rate. Even controlling for various conventional determinants of democratic transitions, we find that external debt constraints indebted countries to move up democracy scale but incite governments to improve investment profile and therefore improving business climate. Furthermore, Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs dampen the negative effect of debt on democratic transitions.
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