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The Economic Effects of Democratic Participation

45 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2002  

Dennis C. Mueller

University of Vienna - Center for Business Studies - Department of Economics

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: January 2002

Abstract

Considerable concern has been expressed in recent years about declines in voter participation rates in the United States and in several other major democratic countries. Some feel low participation rates introduce a "class bias" into the political process and thereby worsen the outcomes from it. Little empirical work exists, however, that measures the effects of lower participation on the welfare of a country. This paper begins to fill this void. It presents cross-national evidence that high levels of democratic participation are associated with more equal distributions of income. The paper's results also imply, however, that this reduction in income inequality comes at a cost. High participation rates are related to larger government sectors which in turn lead to slower economic growth. We also present evidence of the "capture" of government by upper income groups in Latin and Central American countries.

JEL Classification: D70, H0

Suggested Citation

Mueller, Dennis C. and Stratmann, Thomas, The Economic Effects of Democratic Participation (January 2002). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 656. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=301260

Dennis Mueller

University of Vienna - Center for Business Studies - Department of Economics ( email )

BWZ - Brünner Str.
A-1010 Vienna
Austria
+43 1 4277 37484 (Phone)
+43 1 4277 37498 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://mailbox.univie.ac.at/~muelled2/

Thomas Stratmann (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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