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Democratization and clientelism: why are young democracies badly governed?


  • Keefer, Philip


This paper identifies systematic performance differences between younger and older democracies: younger democracies are more corrupt; exhibit less rule of law, lower levels of bureaucratic quality, and lower secondary school enrollments; and spend more on public investment and government workers. Only one theory explains the effects of democratic age on the wide range of policy outcomes examined here-the inability of political competitors in younger democracies to make credible promises to citizens. This explanation, first advanced in Keefer and Vlaicu (2004), offers a concrete interpretation of what political institutionalization might mean, and why it is that young democracies frequently fail to become older and well-performing democracies. A variety of tests support this explanation against alternatives. The effect of democratic age remains large even after controlling for the possibilities that voters are less well-informed in young democracies, that young democracies have systematically different political and electoral institutions, or that young democracies exhibit more polarized societies.

Suggested Citation

  • Keefer, Philip, 2005. "Democratization and clientelism: why are young democracies badly governed?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3594, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3594

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    2. Engerman, Stanley L. & Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 2005. "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 891-921, December.
    3. Dixit, Avinash K & Londregan, John, 1994. "The Determinants of Success of Special Interests in Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 1054, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Carlson, Beverley A., 2000. "Achieving educational quality: what schools teach us: learning from Chile's P900 primary schools," Desarrollo Productivo 64, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    5. Antoine Bommier & Sylvie Lambert, 2000. "Education Demand and Age at School Enrollment in Tanzania," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 177-203.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dimitris K Christopoulos & Gregorios Siourounis & Irene Vlachaki, 2016. "Democratic Reforms, Foreign Aid and Production Inefficiency," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 84(3), pages 363-389, June.
    2. Kapstein, Ethan & Converse, Nathan, 2006. "The Economics of Young Democracies: Policies and Performance," MPRA Paper 553, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Tavares, Samia Costa, 2007. "Do rapid political and trade liberalizations increase corruption?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1053-1076, December.
    4. Ethan Kapstein & Nathan Converse, 2006. "The Economics of Young Democracies: Policies and Performance," Working Papers 85, Center for Global Development.
    5. Keefer, Philip & Vlaicu, Razvan, 2005. "Democracy, credibility and clientelism," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3472, The World Bank.
    6. Sue, Eddie D.W. & Wong, Wei-Kang, 2010. "The political economy of housing prices: Hedonic pricing with regression discontinuity," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 133-144, June.
    7. Robert Elgie & Iain McMenamin, 2008. "Political fragmentation, fiscal deficits and political institutionalisation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 255-267, September.
    8. Brian Levy, 2007. "Governance Reform : Bridging Monitoring and Action," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6742, March.

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    National Governance; Parliamentary Government; Politics and Government; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research;

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