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Democracy & Growth

  • Robert J. Barro

Growth and democracy (subjective indexes of political freedom) are analyzed for a panel of about 100 countries from 1960 to 1990. The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained. Improvements in the standard of living - measured by GDP, life expectancy, and education - substantially raise the probability that political freedoms will grow. These results allow for predictions about which countries will become more or less democratic in the future.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4909.

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Date of creation: Oct 1994
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Publication status: published as Barro, Robert J. "Democracy And Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, 1996, v1(1,Mar), 1-27.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4909
Note: EFG
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