Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 261–277 | Cite as

The Myth of the Democratic Advantage



Existing research points to a democratic advantage in public good provision. Compared to their authoritarian counterparts, democratically elected leaders face more political competition and must please a larger portion of the population to stay in office. This paper provides an impartial reevaluation of the empirical record using the techniques of global sensitivity analysis. Democracy proves to have no systematic association with a range of health and education outcomes, despite an abundance of published empirical and theoretical findings to the contrary.


Democracy Authoritarianism Regime type Public good provision Sensitivity analysis 



This manuscript was written and revised while the author received research support from Yale University, Princeton University, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Thanks to Allan Dafoe, Thad Dunning, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Ken Scheve, Lily Tsai, and Michael Weaver for their helpful comments on various aspects of the manuscript. Thanks also to the editorial team at SCID and the three anonymous reviewers for their support of the manuscript and constructive feedback. Any remaining errors are my own.

Supplementary material

12116_2015_9192_MOESM1_ESM.docx (630 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 629 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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