The Growth Effect of Democracy: Is It Heterogenous and How Can It Be Estimated?
We estimate the effect of political regime transitions on growth with semi-parametric methods, combining difference in differences with matching, that have not been used in macroeconomic settings. Our semi-parametric estimates suggest that previous parametric estimates may have seriously underestimated the growth effects of democracy. In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of -2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.
We thank participants in a seminar at CIFAR, and especially Dan Trefler, for helpful comments. Financial support from the Swedish Research Council, the Tore Browaldh Foundation, Bocconi University, and CIFAR is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.