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.
KeywordsDemocracy 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.
- Bazzi S, Blattman C. Economic shocks and conflict: The (Absence of?) Evidence from Commodity Prices. Working Paper, 2011.Google Scholar
- Brown D. Reading, writing and regime type: democracy’s impact on primary school enrollment. Pol Res Q. 1999;52(4):681–707.Google Scholar
- Bueno de Mesquita B, Smith A, Silverson RM, Morrow JD. The logic of political survival. Cambridge: MIT Press; 2003.Google Scholar
- Coppedge M, Gerring J, Altman D, Bernhard M, Fish S, Hicken A, et al. Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: a new approach. Perspect Polit. 2011;9:247–67.Google Scholar
- Deacon RT, Saha S. Public good provision by Dictatorships: A survey. In: Ott AF, Cebula RJ, editors. The Companion in Public Economics: Empirical Public Economics. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2006.Google Scholar
- Geddes B, Wright J, Frantz E. New data on autocratic regimes. Working Paper. State College, PA: Penn State University Department of Political Science. 2012.Google Scholar
- Imai K, King G, Lau O. “ls: Least Squares Regression for Continuous Dependent Variables.” in Kosuke Imai, Gary King, and Olivia Lau, “Zelig: Everyone’s Statistical Software,”. 2015. http://gking.harvard.edu/zelig.
- Leamer EE. Sensitivity analyses would help. Am Econ Rev. 1985;75:308–13.Google Scholar
- Levine R, Renelt D. A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions. Am Econ Rev. 1992;82:942–63.Google Scholar
- McGuire MC, Olson M. The economics of autocracy and majority rule: the invisible hand and the use of force. J Econ Lit. 1996;34:72–96.Google Scholar
- Munck GL, Verkuilen J. Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: evaluating alternative indices. Comp Pol Stud. 2002;35(1):5–34.Google Scholar
- Sala-I-Martin XX. I just ran two million regressions. Am Econ Rev. 1997;87:178–83.Google Scholar
- Sturm JE, de Haan J. How Robust is Sala-I-Martin’s Robustness Analysis? Working Paper, 2002.Google Scholar