The Agricultural Roots of Autocracy and Democracy
42 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 29, 2018
This paper hypothesizes that inherent agricultural land productivity explains contemporary levels of autocracy and democracy. In particular, intermediate levels of productivity are associated with democracy, whereas a legacy of either low or high agricultural productivity is associated with autocracy. Our cross-country empirical results using data from up to 148 countries support this notion. The finding of an inverted U-shaped relationship holds up to a battery of robustness tests, and are supported by sub- national data from the US and India. Moreover, the persistence of the association is documented by utilizing data from pre-colonial societies.
Keywords: Democracy, autocracy, institutions, resource curse, agricultural productivity, crop yield, pre-colonial societies, inverted U, Unites States, India
JEL Classification: N40, N50, P16, Q10
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