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Empirical Linkages Between Democracy and Economic Growth

  • John F. Helliwell

Using cross-sectional and pooled data for up to 125 countries over the period from 1960 to 1985, this paper evaluates the two-way linkages between democracy and economic growth. The effects of income on democracy are found to be robust and positive. The effects of several measures of democracy on growth are assessed in a comparative growth framework in which growth of per capita GDP depends negatively on initial income levels, as implied by the convergence hypothesis, and positively on rates of investment in physical and human capital. Adjusting for the simultaneous determination of income and democracy makes the estimated direct effect of democracy on subsequent economic growth negative but insignificant. Allowing for the possible positive indirect effect of democracy on income, flowing through the positive effect of democracy on education and investment, tends to offset the negative direct effect of democracy on economic growth. The general result of the growth analysis is that it is still not possible to identify any systematic net effects of democracy on subsequent economic growth.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4066.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4066.

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Date of creation: May 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as British Journal of Political Science, vol. 24, pp. 225-248, April 1994
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4066
Note: ITI EFG
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  1. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  2. John F. Helliwell & Alan Chung, 1992. "Convergence and Growth Linkages Between North and South," NBER Working Papers 3948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Backus, David K. & Kehoe, Patrick J. & Kehoe, Timothy J., 1992. "In search of scale effects in trade and growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 377-409, December.
  4. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Are Nonconvexities Important for Understanding Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 97-103, May.
  6. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  7. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
  8. John F. Helliwell & Alan Chung, 1990. "Macroeconomic Convergence: International Transmission of Growth and Technical Progress," NBER Working Papers 3264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt00x7n68q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  10. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  12. Stanley Fischer, 1991. "Growth, Macroeconomics, and Development," NBER Working Papers 3702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Abramovitz, Moses, 1990. "The Catch-Up Factor in Postwar Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(1), pages 1-18, January.
  14. Helpman, Elhanan, 1992. "Endogenous macroeconomic growth theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 237-267, April.
  15. Dick, G William, 1974. "Authoritarian versus Nonauthoritarian Approaches to Economic Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 817-27, July/Aug..
  16. Fischer, S., 1991. "Growth, Macroeconomics, and Development," Working papers 580, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  17. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
  18. De Long, J Bradford, 1988. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1138-54, December.
  19. Alberto Alesina & Sule Ozler & Nouriel Roubini & Phillip Swagel, 1992. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Weede, Erich, 1983. "The Impact of Democracy on Economic Growth: Some Evidence from Cross-National Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1), pages 21-39.
  21. repec:fth:harver:1532 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
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