Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change
NBER Working Paper No. 12175
We study the joint dynamics of economic and political change. Predictions of the simple model that we formulate in the paper get considerable support in a panel of data on political regimes and GDP per capita for about 150 countries over 150 years. Democratic capital -- measured by a nation's historical experience with democracy and by the incidence of democracy in its neighborhood -- reduces the exit rate from democracy and raises the exit rate from autocracy. In democracies, a higher stock of democratic capital stimulates growth in an indirect way by decreasing the probability of a successful coup. Our results suggest a virtuous circle, where the accumulation of physical and democratic capital reinforce each other, promoting economic development jointly with the consolidation of democracy.
Published: Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2009. "Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 88-126, July.