Collective action, political parties and pro-development public policy
Broad consensus exists that the ability of political actors to make credible commitments is key to development. An important and little-explored determinant of the credibility of political commitments is the existence of organizations that facilitate citizen collective action to sanction political actors who renege. This paper focuses on one essential organization, the political party. Three measures of political parties are used to assess cross-country differences in the degree to which politicians facilitate the ability of citizens to act in their collective interest. Each of these measures is associated with superior development outcomes, above and beyond the effects of competitive elections. These results have implications for understanding the extraordinary economic success of some East Asian countries and notable lags among others: East Asian non-democracies exhibit more institutionalized ruling parties than other non-democracies, while East Asian democracies exhibit equally or less institutionalized parties. The evidence suggests that greater research and policy emphasis be placed on the organizational characteristics of countries that allow citizens to hold leaders accountable.
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