Do elections bring prosperity?

Two of my favourite economists – Daron Acemoglu and Ed Glaeser – debate whether democracy boosts growth. It’s worth reading not only because of the substance, but also because the duo do a nice job of arguing about their highly technical research in pretty intuitive terms.

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4 Responses to Do elections bring prosperity?

  1. Richard Green says:

    Moving in these arguments can be a quagmire, when everything that seems to be causative and exogenous ends up indicative and endogenous. Democracy ends up being a product of the same things that foster growth rather than the cause, perhaps democracy being one of these things as Glaeser suggests. But what kind of society educates its people? A healthy one with elements of meritocracy and other factors that support growth!
    Which is why I was so impressed with Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinsons relating of these factors to disease and the colonial experience. A concrete exogenous factor! Hurrah!

    That said, I adore talking about this stuff, especially now that the field is moving beyond a triumph of the west/Common law is better than civil law/Britishisms are better than Spanishisms that were almost a resurrection of whig history.

  2. Peter Whiteford says:

    I enjoyed this, but was struck by two of Acemoglu’s examples used in his argument that seemed to me to be extremely wide of the mark.

    In discussing the relationship between education and democracy he states: “After all, former Socialist republics had very high levels of education during the Cold War, but did not show a strong tendency to become democratic.”

    Mmm – Hungary 1956; Czechoslovakia, 1968; Poland in the 1980s – all these look to me like a tendency to become democratic, in two cases requiring armed intervention from outside to stop it. Most of the former Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe also became democratic as soon as they could in the 1990s and the threat of Russian intervention was removed.

    He also says: “… I believe that the educated have an important role in defending democracy. But they can also turn against democracy. Educated people have also been big supporters of anti-democratic movements, including the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and many revolutionary movements in Latin America.”

    Again, this seems to me to be a misreading of history. The Bolshevik revolution and many revolutionary movements in Latin America may have turned out badly, but at the start they were not in the business of overthrowing existing democracies, but overthrowing monarchies, oligarchies or dictatorships

  3. Richard Green says:

    I’m also inclined to think that education acts as a signaller for middle class status in many countries, and the middle classes tend to be the support and driver for much social change, including the calamitous type typified by revolutions, coups and uprisings.
    In which case education may be causative or merely indicative of the people who would engage as such, for or against democracy.

  4. Aussie Equitist says:

    Dear Andrew

    Due to the recent spate of Ads intended to demonise & vilify MOTHERS, I have today posted your article regarding the recent Federal trend of wasting advertising funds on a couple of public forums.

    I would be keen to hear your cost-benefits and social analysis of such Ads – amongst others!

    See my posts at: –

    http://www.rightsatwork.com.au:81/community/showthread.php?t=1542

    http://au.messages.yahoo.com/news/top-stories/600739/

    Note that I did not start the latter thread & that I do not know the person who did.

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