What voters reward: Evidence from the 2009 Indian parliamentary elections

Poonam Gupta, Arvind Panagariya, 17 March 2014

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Despite the intuitive appeal of the idea that good economic outcomes such as sustained rapid growth should help incumbents win elections, evidence on it has been scant, especially from developing countries.

Topics: Politics and economics
Tags: democracy, India, voting

Can democracy help with inequality?

Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo, James A Robinson, 7 February 2014

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There is a great deal of concern at the moment about the consequences of rising levels of inequality in North America and Western Europe. Will this lead to an oligarchisation of the political system, and imperil political and social stability? Many find such dynamics puzzling given that it is happening in democratic countries.

Topics: Politics and economics, Poverty and income inequality
Tags: democracy, Director’s Law, Inequality, Median Voter, redistribution

The value of democracy in the world’s poorest region: Evidence from Kenya’s road building

Ameet Morjaria, 5 February 2014

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An enormous literature points to a diverse set of factors behind Africa’s growth tragedy, ranging from bad policies, poor education, and poor infrastructure, to aging leaders, the historic slave trade, and political instability.

Topics: Development, Institutions and economics, Politics and economics
Tags: Africa, autocracy, democracy, ethnic inequality, public finance

Costing secrecy

Mark Harrison, 15 January 2014

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From public finance to climate change, democracy looks to be in trouble. In many Western countries, political decisions are gridlocked while economic, social, and environmental imbalances accumulate. Our leaders juggle public opinion, private lobbies, and expert advice while trying to live within past promises and present legal obligations.

Topics: Economic history, Politics and economics
Tags: autocracy, democracy, dictatorship, secrecy, Soviet Union, transaction costs

Catenarian fiscal discipline

Hans Gersbach, 4 January 2014

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Limiting the accumulation of public debt in democracies has always been a problem, but it has become a particularly pressing one in the last few decades.

Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: debt, democracy, fiscal discipline, fiscal policy, time inconsistency

The new sustainability factor of the public pension system in Spain

Rafael Doménech, Víctor Pérez-Díaz, 11 December 2013

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As in many other European countries, long-term trends in population growth and life expectancy in Spain make the current pay-as-you-go pension system unsustainable. A later baby boom and a recent immigration wave help explain why Spain has postponed the implementation of reforms already introduced in other European countries in the 1990s (see, for example, Chapter 1 of OECD 2012).

Topics: Europe's nations and regions, Welfare state and social Europe
Tags: accountability, democracy, pensions, Spain, Sustainability, transparency

Democracy in Africa

Thorvaldur Gylfason, 17 November 2013

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A man’s admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.
Alexis de Tocqueville

Until the second half of the 19th century, there were so few democratic states around the world that they could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Topics: Development, Economic history, Politics and economics
Tags: Africa, anocracy, autocracy, Corruption, democracy, education, fertility, growth, life expectancy

Growth and political change: Transition duration is critical

Caroline Freund, Melise Jaud, 24 January 2013

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The Arab world is undergoing a major political transition. The final outcomes of the changes are far from certain in nations where they have occurred. The geographical spread of the changes is also far from clear at this point. Nevertheless, there have been and will continue to be economic consequences from the moves towards democracy (see Besley and Kudamatsu 2007).

Topics: Development, Politics and economics
Tags: democracy, growth, political change, transition

What explains political institutions? Evidence from colonial British America

Elena Nikolova, 17 August 2012

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Under what circumstances do democratic as opposed to authoritarian institutions emerge? Although a large literature has tackled this question (see Acemoglu et al. 2001, Acemoglu and Robinson 2012, Engerman and Sokoloff 2000), we still have an imperfect knowledge of how representative institutions originate and change.

Topics: Labour markets, Politics and economics
Tags: colonisation, democracy, economic history, institutions, US

What determines democracy? And what helps to maintain it?

Martin Gassebner, Michael J Lamla, James Raymond Vreeland, 11 August 2012

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Democracy is on the move in the Arab world. Whether democratic regimes will emerge and survive remains an open question, and the intense media coverage of the Arab Spring has revived public interest in the determinants of democracy. The quest to understand why democracy emerges and survives, however, has long been on the agenda of economists and political scientists.

Topics: Politics and economics
Tags: Arab Spring, democracy, Middle East

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