Electoral Democracy and Human Development

62 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2015 Last revised: 24 May 2016

See all articles by John Gerring

John Gerring

University of Texas at Austin

Carl Henrik Knutsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

Svend-Erik Skaaning

Aarhus University

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute; University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Matthew Maguire

San José State University

Date Written: February 1, 2016

Abstract

This study attempts to reconcile competing positions in the debate over whether democracy improves human development by showing that some aspects of democracy – but not others – affect human development. Specifically, we argue that the “electoral” aspect of democracy improves human development while aspects related to citizen empowerment do not (or scarcely so). Likewise, composite indices of democracy bear only a weak relationship to human development, especially if they do not take the mutual dependence between electoral components into account in their aggregation procedures. We argue, finally, that public policies serve as a key causal mechanism in this relationship. Electoral competition incentivizes politicians to provide public goods and services, and these, in turn, save lives. This set of hypotheses is tested in a more rigorous fashion than has hitherto been possible. First, we enlist a new dataset compiled by the CLIO Infra project that measures mortality – infant mortality, child mortality, and life expectancy – for most sovereign countries over the course of the twentieth century. Second, we draw on a new political institutions dataset – Varieties of Democracy (V- Dem) – that provides highly differentiated measures of democracy, measured annually for most sovereign countries from 1900 to the present. Third, we apply a diverse set of empirical tests including fixed effects, lagged dependent variables, first-difference, system GMM, and instrumental variables. Considered together, these tests mitigate concerns about causal identification.

Suggested Citation

Gerring, John and Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Skaaning, Svend-Erik and Teorell, Jan and Coppedge, Michael and Lindberg, Staffan I. and Maguire, Matthew, Electoral Democracy and Human Development (February 1, 2016). V-Dem Working Paper 2015:9 Edited. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2652180 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2652180

John Gerring (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Carl Henrik Knutsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Olso, 0851
Norway

Svend-Erik Skaaning

Aarhus University ( email )

Bartholins Allé 7
Aarhus, 8000
Denmark

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Department of Political Science
Box 52
Lund, SE 40530
Sweden

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute ( email )

Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

216 Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN New South Wales 46556-5646
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nd.edu/~mcoppedg/crd

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Matthew Maguire

San José State University ( email )

San José, CA
United States

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