GDI PhD candidate Bala Yusuf discusses the perception of Donald Trump as an anti-establishment leader, and compares the Nigerian experience of democracy with that of the US. Bala’s research addresses the politics of development in Nigeria, with specific reference to elite commitment and elite capture in the implementation of a conditional grant scheme between 2010 and 2015.
Dr Robbie Watt secured his PhD, which critiques the moral economy of carbon markets and carbon offsetting, the day before Donald Trump was announced US President-elect. Here Robbie breaks down why a Trump win is bad news for those who, unlike the new POTUS, believe that climate change is an urgent issue.
ESID’s Kunal Sen and Sabyasachi Kar have just published a new title, The Political Economy of India’s Growth Episodes. Described as an unconventional reading of India’s growth experience since independence, it deals in particular with the political economy and institutional factors that have been neglected in scholarship to date, and presents analytical structure for understanding different categories of state-business relations and their implications for growth.
Read their working papers ‘Democracy versus dictatorship? The political determinants of growth episodes‘ and ‘The Political Economy of Economic Growth in India, 1993-2013‘.
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?