Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?

with Ricard Gil and Xavier Sala-i-Martin


Estimates of democracy's effect on the public sector are obtained from comparisons of 142 countries over the years 1960-90. Based on three tenets of voting theory -- that voting mutes policy preference intensity, political power is equally distributed in democracies, and the form of voting processes is important -- we expect democracy to affect policies that redistribute, or economically favor the political leadership, or enhance efficiency. We do not find such differences. Instead democracies are less likely to use policies that limit competition for public office. Alternative modeling approaches emphasize the degree of competition, and deemphasize the form or even existence of voting processes.

This paper is published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. 18(1), Winter 2004: 51-74.

However, only the NBER working paper version has the data appendix. You can download a STATA 7.0 file here.

© copyright 2003, 2004 by Casey B. Mulligan, Ricard Gil, and Xavier Sala-i-Martin.