Tolerance and economic growth revisited: a note
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Berggren and Elinder (BE) in this journal write on the relationship between the degree of tolerance in a nation and its rate of economic growth. They are disturbed to find in their cross sections that faster economic growth statistically goes together with intolerance of homosexuals. In this comment, we revisit the issue and demonstrate that the concern expressed by BE is unwarranted if we properly account for “conditional convergence” in the regressions for economic growth. Other things being equal, a country grows faster if it starts from a poorer initial position. In the BE dataset, China since the Deng reforms is a prime example. At about the same time, another group of countries managed to accelerate their economic growth after a long period of stagnation: the ex-communist countries in central and Eastern Europe. Many of these nations also grew exceptionally fast for a number of years, once freedom had been regained and the initial chaos overcome. With simple modeling of these historical initial conditions, we find no statistical pattern that associates bias against homosexuals with weaker economic growth. Our results are robust under alternative specifications.
JEL ClassificationO40 Z13
We thank Sue Tee Gan and Kay Ann Cheong for excellent research assistance. Mary Gu from Monash Malaysia provided very helpful comments on earlier drafts. We also thank two anonymous referees from this Journal for their extensive comments and suggestions.
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