8 December 2016
Kunal and colleagues Lant Pritchett, Sabyasachi Kar and Selim Raihan have published a working paper on their new research: Democracy versus growth: the political determinants of growth episodes. Below, Kunal addresses their central question of whether democracy can cause large growth accelerations and prevent large growth decelerations.
Consider two children born at the same time in Ghana, a democracy, and Ethiopia, an authoritarian regime. Which child is likely to see the largest increase in living standards in her lifetime? This question has vexed social scientists for a long time – are democracies likely to grow faster than autocracies? Democracies tend to provide public goods, such as education, to their citizens and be more likely to obey the rule of law. Democracy can also provide a natural check to the power of kleptocratic leaders, reduce social conflict and prevent powerful political groups from monopolising economic opportunities. All these factors would be conducive to economic growth.
At the same time, however, democratisation may hurt economic growth if this leads to distortionary redistribution. Interest group politics are also more prevalent in democracies, and their presence can lead to stagnation. On the other hand, autocracies can grow rapidly if there is a far-sighted leader in place, who is willing to commit to policies that increase investment and growth. But autocracies can also be ruled by leaders with short-term horizons, who do not consider the long-term consequences of their actions. The vast empirical literature that looks at the democracy-growth relationship had not found an unequivocal positive relationship till very recently. However, an influential paper by Daron Acemoglu and co-authors finds strong evidence that democracy does cause growth. So is the debate over? Can we then conclude that the child born in Ghana has a better chance of seeing a rise in her family’s income than the child born in Ethiopia?
30 November 2016
This week ESID are in Washington DC for a number of exciting events. Today starts with a seminar at the World Bank with co-author of the forthcoming World Development Report on Governance and the Law, Yongmei Zhou.
Below are more details of this and the rest of the week’s events. If you’re in Washington please do register on Eventbrite and come along!
28 November, 2016
Having done an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Tom Lavers‘ trajectory took a turn after he spent time travelling in Peru, and working in an orphanage there. On returning to the UK he completed a doctorate in Development Studies, and has worked in research since, primarily focusing on politics and social policy. He recently left his post at the ILO to join the Global Development Institute (GDI) at The University of Manchester, and leads ESID’s project on the political economy of social protection expansion in Africa.
ESID are linking up with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) for a one-day workshop at the National Council For Voluntary Organisations in London on 7 December 2016 to explore the role of state and business relations in creating development outcomes.