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Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?

  • Casey B. Mulligan
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin
  • Ricard Gil

Estimates of democracy's effect on the public sector are obtained from comparisons of 142 countries over the years 1960-90. Based on three tenets of voting theory -- that voting mutes policy preference intensity, political power is equally distributed in democracies, and the form of voting processes is important -- we expect democracy to affect policies that redistribute, or economically favor the political leadership, or enhance efficiency. We do not find such differences. Instead democracies are less likely to use policies that limit competition for public office. Alternative modeling approaches emphasize the degree of competition, and deemphasize the form or even existence of voting processes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10040.

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Date of creation: Oct 2003
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Publication status: published as Casey B. Mulligan & Ricard Gil & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2004. "Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 51-74, Winter.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10040
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