IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are democratic governments more efficient?


  • Adam, Antonis
  • Delis, Manthos D
  • Kammas, Pantelis


This paper explores the relationship between public sector efficiency (PSE) and the level of democracy, both theoretically and empirically. At the theoretical level a simple model of elections with two time periods is presented, which takes into account whether the political regime is democratic or not. Specifically, we assume that elected officials in democracies are “more” accountable to voters than the respective ones in autocracies. This mechanism induces the democratic politicians to produce the public good in a more efficient way, in order to remain in power. In the empirical section we examine the effect of democracy on PSE for a panel dataset of 50 developing and developed countries over the period 1980-2000. Our results suggest that the relationship between PSE and democracy is positive and statistically significant, thus confirming our theoretical priors.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam, Antonis & Delis, Manthos D & Kammas, Pantelis, 2009. "Are democratic governments more efficient?," MPRA Paper 15843, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15843

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Cuberes & Michał Jerzmanowski, 2009. "Democracy, Diversification and Growth Reversals," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1270-1302, October.
    2. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2012. "Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 267-321, December.
    3. Martin C. McGuire & Mancur Olson Jr., 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule: The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
    4. Besley, Timothy & Smart, Michael, 2007. "Fiscal restraints and voter welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 755-773, April.
    5. Paldam, Martin, 2003. "Economic freedom and the success of the Asian tigers: an essay on controversy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 453-477, September.
    6. Torsten Persson & Gérard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202.
    7. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:02:p:297-322_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Gene M. Grossman (ed.), 1996. "Economic Growth," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 553.
    10. Canice Prendergast, 2003. "The Limits of Bureaucratic Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 929-958, October.
    11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2003. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 958-989, June.
    12. Helliwell, John F., 1994. "Empirical Linkages Between Democracy and Economic Growth," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(02), pages 225-248, April.
    13. Muhammed N. Islam & Stanley L. Winer, 2004. "Tinpots, Totalitarians (and Democrats): An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Economic Growth on Civil Liberties and Political Rights," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 118(3_4), pages 289-323, March.
    14. Polak, J.J., 1991. "The Changing Nature of IMF Conditionality," Princeton Studies in International Economics 184, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    15. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
    16. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2011. "Emergence And Persistence Of Inefficient States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 177-208, April.
    17. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2005. "The Role of Government in Anti-Social Redistributive Activities," CESifo Working Paper Series 1427, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Wyckoff, Paul Gary, 1990. "Bureaucracy, Inefficiency, and Time," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 67(2), pages 169-179, November.
    19. Weede, Erich, 1997. "Income inequality, democracy and growth reconsidered," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 751-764, December.
    20. Myerson Roger B., 1993. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 118-132, January.
    21. Acemoglu, Daron, 2005. "Politics and economics in weak and strong states," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1199-1226, October.
    22. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "The size and scope of government:: Comparative politics with rational politicians," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 699-735, April.
    23. 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.
    24. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    25. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
    26. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
    27. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
    28. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, May.
    29. Robert Deacon, 2009. "Public good provision under dictatorship and democracy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 241-262, April.
    30. Klomp, Jeroen & de Haan, Jakob, 2009. "Political institutions and economic volatility," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 311-326, September.
    31. Antonio Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2010. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(17), pages 2147-2164.
    32. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
    33. Edward D. Mansfield & Helen V. Milner & B. Peter Rosendorff, 2015. "Why Democracies Cooperate More: Electoral Control and International Trade Agreements," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE, chapter 11, pages 227-263 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    34. Chan, Kenneth S, 2002. "Trade and Bureaucratic Efficiency," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(3), pages 735-754, April.
    35. Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2012. "Has Democratization Reduced Infant Mortality In Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence From Micro Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1294-1317, December.
    36. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2008. "Wars and State Capacity," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 522-530, 04-05.
    37. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    38. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    39. Cukierman, Alex & Webb, Steven B & Neyapti, Bilin, 1992. "Measuring the Independence of Central Banks and Its Effect on Policy Outcomes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(3), pages 353-398, September.
    40. Antonis Adam, 2009. "Fiscal Reliance on Tariff Revenues: In Search of a Political Economy Explanation?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 610-625, November.
    41. Mulligan, Casey B. & Tsui, Kevin K., 2015. "Political entry, public policies, and the economy," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 377-397.
    42. Jacques J. Polak, 1991. "The Changing Nature of IMF Conditionality," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 41, OECD Publishing.
    43. de Haan, Jakob & Siermann, Clemens L J, 1995. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Impact of Democracy on Economic Growth," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 197-215.
    44. Joseph P. Joyce, 2006. "Promises Made, Promises Broken: A Model Of Imf Program Implementation," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 339-365, November.
    45. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
    46. Przeworski, Adam & Vreeland, James Raymond, 2000. "The effect of IMF programs on economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 385-421, August.
    47. Timothy Besley & Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2006. "Health and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 313-318, May.
    48. Afonso, António & Fernandes, Sónia, 2008. "Assessing and explaining the relative efficiency of local government," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1946-1979, October.
    49. Adam, Antonis & Filippaios, Fragkiskos, 2007. "Foreign direct investment and civil liberties: A new perspective," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1038-1052, December.
    50. Dani Rodrik, 2000. "Participatory Politics, Social Cooperation, and Economic Stability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 140-144, May.
    51. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:04:p:1041-1060_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rode, Martin & Gwartney, James D., 2012. "Does democratization facilitate economic liberalization?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 607-619.
    2. repec:eee:poleco:v:48:y:2017:i:c:p:128-143 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Stephanie Meinhard & Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "The Globalization–Welfare State Nexus Reconsidered," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 271-287, May.
    4. Fumagalli, Elena & Mentzakis, Emmanouil & Suhrcke, Marc, 2013. "Do political factors matter in explaining under- and overweight outcomes in developing countries?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 48-56.
    5. Berlemann, Michael & Hielscher, Kai, 2011. "A Time-varying Indicator of Effective Monetary Policy Conservatism," Working Paper 112/2011, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg.
    6. Michael Berlemann & Kai Hielscher, 2016. "Measuring Effective Monetary Policy Conservatism of Central Banks: A Dynamic Approach," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 17(1), pages 105-132, May.
    7. Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Islam and democracy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 185-192, April.
    8. Asatryan, Zareh & Heinemann, Friedrich & Pitlik, Hans, 2017. "Reforming the public administration: The role of crisis and the power of bureaucracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 128-143.
    9. Cooray, Arusha & Potrafke, Niklas, 2011. "Gender inequality in education: Political institutions or culture and religion?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 268-280, June.
    10. Helene Ehrhart, 2012. "Assessing the relationship between democracy and domestic taxes in developing countries," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(1), pages 551-566.
    11. Kis-Katos, Krisztina & Liebert, Helge & Schulze, Günther G., 2011. "On the origin of domestic and international terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(S1), pages 17-36.
    12. Dorsch, Michael T. & Maarek, Paul, 2015. "Inefficient predation and political transitions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 37-48.
    13. Jetter, Michael, 2014. "Volatility and growth: Governments are key," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 71-88.

    More about this item


    H11; D7;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15843. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.