Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo, James Robinson, 24 May 2017

Ernesto Dal Bó, Frederico Finan, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson, Johanna Rickne, 26 April 2017

Ancient Athenians drew lots to determine who served in public office, but oligarchs at that time (and ever since) have argued that there is a trade-off between competence and fair representation. This column uses Swedish population data on cognitive and leadership ability to argue that democracy in Sweden has created government by competent people who are representative of all walks of life. Sweden’s inclusive meritocracy suggests that electoral democracy can help us avoid the tension between representation and competence.

Klaus Desmet, Joseph Flavian Gomes, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortin, 17 March 2017

Diverse countries tend to have more conflict, lower development, and worse public goods, possibly due to antagonism between groups. Based on recent research mapping local linguistic diversity across the entire globe, this column argues that local interaction with people of other ethnolinguistic groups can mitigate the negative effect of overall diversity on a country’s outcomes in health, education and public goods. This finding lends support to policies that influence the local mixing of ethnolinguistic groups.  

Manthos Delis, Iftekhar Hasan, Steven Ongena, 22 February 2017

The positive relationship between democratic development and economic outcomes is well established. Using three decades of international data, this column identifies a new channel for this effect – the cost of credit to corporations. It also analyses loan pricing in Turkey to reveal a substantial rise in the average cost of lending after the attempted coup d’etat in July 2016. Together, these results highlight how efficiency in loan pricing results in a comparative advantage for firms in democratic countries over those in less democratic or authoritarian countries.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Per Wijkman, 06 February 2017

There is a cross-country relationship between economic performance and both economic and political diversification. This column presents global evidence that between 1962 and 2012, both types of diversification were closely related to economic performance. This period included the spread of democracy, the global liberalisation of trade, and the termination of the Cold War. The recent retreat of democracy, the popular reaction to trade liberalisation in key countries, and a new cold war appear likely to reduce economic efficiency and growth. 

Amrita Dhillon, Pramila Krishnan, Manasa Patnam, Carlo Perroni, 11 November 2016

The ‘curse’ of natural resources on economic development has been well documented, but there is no consensus on its underlying causes. Exploiting the formation of new Indian states in 2001, this column shows that the effects of state breakup on local economies differ systematically across natural resource-rich and resource-poor areas, in line with the spatial distribution of natural resources within states. The relationship between resource abundance and economic outcomes flows, at least in part, through a political channel.

Mitchell Hoffman, Gianmarco León, María Lombardi, 30 October 2016

Electoral participation has declined in advanced democracies in recent years. This column examines the impact of compulsory voting on government policy, assessing whether increasing voter turnout would translate into changes in public policies. Using evidence from Austria, it finds that compulsory voting does not significantly affect government spending, but that the case may be different for countries with historically low turnout.

Julia Ruiz Pozuelo, Amy Slipowitz, Guillermo Vuletin, 30 September 2016

The debate over whether democracy causes economic prosperity and growth dates back millennia. Recent empirical results suggest that democratisation has a sizable positive effect on economic growth, but endogeneity and reverse causality may be driving these results. This column uses new data from surveys of democracy experts to solve the endogeneity puzzle. The positive association between democracy and economic growth is a reflection of economic turmoil causing the emergence of democratic rule, rather than democracy causing more economic growth.

Marco Buti, Muriel Lacoue-Labarthe, 07 September 2016

The Eurozone Crisis has taken a significant toll – both economic and political – on EU member states as well as the Union as a whole. This column identifies three elements that are key to a working solution for continued union: overcoming the intergovernmental method that has dominated EU decision‑making since the crisis, avoiding the seemingly easy route of blaming all evils on ‘Brussels’, and a more unified external representation in global economic governance.

Klaus Desmet, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortin, Romain Wacziarg, 31 July 2016

The current refugee crisis has highlighted the importance of understanding how ethnic and cultural differences affect social cohesion. This column investigates the links between ethnicity and culture, and the relationship between diversity and civil conflict. It finds that globally, there appears to be little overlap between ethnic identity and cultural identity. Also, ethnic diversity per se has no effect on civil conflict. It is when differences in culture coincide with differences in ethnicity that conflict becomes more likely.

Ruben Durante, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 15 June 2016

Governments involved in conflict are often concerned with how their actions are perceived by the international community. This column uses evidence on the Israel-Palestine conflict and US news reporting between 2000 and 2011 to show how media considerations can impact military strategy. Israeli attacks are more likely to be carried out one day before the US news is expected to be dominated by important political or sport events. There is no evidence of a similar pattern to Palestinian attacks. The findings suggest that strategic behaviour could undermine the effectiveness of the mass media as a watchdog, and thus reduce citizens’ ability to keep public officials accountable. 

Marco Manacorda, Andrea Tesei, 22 May 2016

Digital technologies have been widely used for political activism in recent years, including during the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Indignados movement in Spain. This column reports research showing that the growing use of mobile phones in Africa leads to more political protests during recessions and periods of national crisis. The mobilising potential of digital technologies is more pronounced in autocratic countries and those where the raditional media are under state control, suggesting that this technology may play a key role in fostering political freedom.

Brian Knight, Ana Tribin, 06 May 2016

The media plays a significant role in politics, but households can choose not to consume political propaganda delivered through the media. This column uses evidence from Venezuela to show that households that support opposition parties are more inclined to switch away from, or tune out of, government propaganda delivered via the television. Higher-income households, which tend to have access to alternative channels via cable, are also less likely to consume propaganda. These findings have significant implications for politically polarised societies.

Guglielmo Barone, Alessio D'Ignazio, Guido de Blasio, Paolo Naticchioni, 19 April 2016

The recent refugee crisis in Europe has highlighted that increased immigration leads to political success for extreme right-wing parties. This column uses evidence from three elections in Italy to quantify the impact immigration has on the political success of non-extreme right-wing parties. In the Italian case, immigration leads to bigger gains for centre-right parties than extreme right parties.

Sharun Mukand, Dani Rodrik, 29 September 2015

There are more democracies in the world than non-democracies, but few of the democracies go beyond electoral competition. This column highlights the contrast between electoral democracies and liberal ones, that is, those that protect civil rights in addition to political and property rights. Liberal democracies are rare because the failure to protect minority rights is a common consequence of the emergence of democracy. They are especially uncommon in the developing world, where decolonisation and identity cleavages sparked social mobilisation.

Michael Bordo, Harold James, 06 April 2015

The classic exchange-rate trilemma analysis argues that capital mobility, monetary autonomy and fixed exchange rates are incompatible. This column shows how policy trilemma analysis can be extended to other domains, specifically financial stability, political economy, and international relations. It argues that analysing these trade-offs can help to identify policy options that balance macroeconomic objectives and political realities in the face of globalisation.

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Yannis Psycharis, Vassilis Tselios, 03 March 2015

Electoral results and the geographical allocation of public investment in Greece have been intimately related. This column describes how incumbent Greek governments between 1975 and 2009 tended to reward those constituencies returning them to office. Increases in both the absolute and relative electoral returns for the party in government in a given Greek region were traditionally repaid with a greater level of per capita investment in that region. Single-member constituencies were the greatest beneficiaries of this type of pork-barrel politics.

Leonardo Baccini, Johannes Urpelainen, 09 January 2015

From 1990 to 2009, more than 500 preferential trading agreements were formed by countries of all stripes. This column argues that the non-trade reform effects are central to understanding the causes and consequences of the recent trade agreement wave. Developing country leaders use deep, legally binding trade agreements with major economic powers, especially the US and the EU, to enact and implement politically controversial domestic reforms.

Roland Kupers, 25 July 2014

Complexity science is changing the way we think about social systems and social theory. Unfortunately, economists’ policy models have not kept up and are stuck in either a market fundamentalist or government control narrative. This Vox Talk argues for a new, more flexible policy narrative, which envisions society as a complex evolving system that is uncontrollable but can be influenced.

Timothy Hatton, 07 June 2014

In the recent European Parliament elections, right-wing populist parties made significant gains. Commentators have linked the rise of these parties to growing anti-immigration sentiment in the wake of the crisis. This column examines the extent to which public opinion has in fact shifted against immigration. Survey data shows that there was no Europe-wide surge in anti-immigration opinion between 2006 and 2010, although there was a marked change in Spain, Greece, and Ireland. This suggests that populist parties’ success cannot be attributed to anti-immigration sentiment alone.