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Political Competition and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence from the United States

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  • Besley, Timothy
  • Persson, Torsten
  • Sturm, Daniel

Abstract

We formulate a model to explain why the lack of political competition may stifle economic performance and use the United States as a testing ground for the model’s predictions, exploiting the 1965 Voting Rights Act which helped break the near monpoly on political power of the Democrats in southern states. We find statistically robust evidence that changes in political competition have quantitatively important effects on state income growth, state policies, and quality of Governors. By our bottom-line estimate, the increase in political competition triggered by the Voting Rights Act raised long-run per capita income in the average affected state by about 20 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Besley, Timothy & Persson, Torsten & Sturm, Daniel, 2006. "Political Competition and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence from the United States," Discussion Papers in Economics 769, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:769
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
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    8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482, Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    US south; voting restrictions; political competition; economic growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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