Democracy, Quality of Government, and Public Goods Provision: The Case of Water Management
40 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 2018
A large strand of research has argued that democracy with its broad representation and electoral accountability is beneficial for the provision of public goods to the general population. However, there is a large variation in how the existing democratic regimes perform, implying that democratic institutions are not sufficient to secure people’s wellbeing. The aim of this paper is to explore the sources of this variation. With the point of departure in theories on democracy, quality of government, and public goods provision, we posit that the way democracies perform in the delivery of public goods to their citizens depends on the presence of good quality institutions that shape the implementation of public policies. Using a mixed method design, this paper both empirically tests this proposition and offers an in-depth investigation into the mechanisms behind the interdependent relationship. In the first stage of our analysis, we explicitly test the conditional effects of democracy and quality of government on public goods provision using water quality as an example of such public good. The results show that democracy is associated with higher water quality only in countries where quality of government is high. In contexts with low governmental quality, more democracy even seems to be associated with higher water pollution. In the second stage of our analysis, we proceed with examining the mechanisms of how poor quality of government disrupts the positive effects of democracy on people’s access to safe drinking water using interview data from a typical case of Moldova.
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