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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 18 No. 1 (Winter 2004)


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Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?

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Mulligan, Casey B., Ricard Gil, and Xavier Sala-i-Martin. 2004. "Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies? ." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1): 51-74.

DOI: 10.1257/089533004773563430


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 democracy is correlated with 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.

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Mulligan, Casey B.
Gil, Ricard
Sala-i-Martin, Xavier


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