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Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details

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  • Torsten Persson
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

Does democracy promote economic development? We review recent attempts to address this question, which exploit the within-country variation associated with historical transitions in and out of democracy. The answer is positive, but depends %u2013 in a subtle way %u2013 on the details of democratic reforms. First, democratizations and economic liberalizations in isolation each induce growth accelerations, but countries liberalizing their economy before extending political rights do better than those carrying out the opposite sequence. Second, different forms of democratic government and different electoral systems lead to different fiscal trade policies: this might explain why new presidential democracies grow faster than new parliamentary democracies. Third, it is important to distinguish between expected and actual political reforms: expectations of regime change have an independent effect on growth, and taking expectations into account helps identify a stronger growth effect of democracy.

Suggested Citation

  • Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Democracy and Development: The Devil in the Details," NBER Working Papers 11993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11993
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Elias Papaioannou & Gregorios Siourounis, 2008. "Democratisation and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1520-1551, October.
    2. Giavazzi, Francesco & Tabellini, Guido, 2005. "Economic and political liberalizations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1297-1330, October.
    3. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2009. "Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 88-126, July.
    4. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, March.
    5. Dani Rodrik & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Do Democratic Transitions Produce Bad Economic Outcomes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 50-55, May.
    6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
    7. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    8. Torsten Persson, 2005. "Forms of Democracy, Policy and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 11171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General

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