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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.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3594.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3594
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  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:4:p:1231-1294 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. 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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