Has Democracy Reduced the Rich-Poor Gap in Child Mortality? An Analysis of 5 Million Births from 50 Developing Countries Since 1970
52 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014 Last revised: 20 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 19, 2014
Standard theories in political science and economics lead to the expectation that democratization benefits the poor. Tests of these theories have usually investigated changes in average health or welfare outcomes. Here I use a more carefully targeted strategy. This paper offers the first large-scale analysis of the effects of democratization on the within-country, rich-poor gap in child mortality across the developing world. Using a unique data set with more than 5 million birth records from 50 middle- and low-income countries, this study tests whether those at the bottom of the income distribution benefit more from the democratic transitions than those at the top. Contrary to the widespread belief that democratic transitions help the poor, this study shows evidence that it does not. Although the mortality gap between the rich and poor is decreasing over time almost everywhere, this change is not driven by regime type. However, there is remarkable heterogeneity on the effects of democratization on health that deserves further investigation.
Keywords: Child Mortality; Inequality; Redistribution; Democratization; Meta-Analysis; Longitudinal Analysis
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