Hans Gersbach, 17 June 2009

How might we limit the accumulation of public debt by democratic governments? This column proposes “voting twice" – first for a deficit ceiling and second for a particular budget. Such a procedure might strike a balance between flexibility and the commitment to refrain from loading debt onto future generations.

Patricia Funk, 28 November 2008

Patricia Funk of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her research on the impact of direct democracy on government spending, which draws on over a hundred years of data on the cantons of Switzerland. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008.

Elias Papaioannou, Gregorios Siourounis, 25 October 2008

Cross-country comparisons have produced little evidence that democracy improves economic growth. This column summarises research using within-country comparisons over time to show that democratising countries realise higher long-run growth after the volatile transition period. Democracy’s value may lie in its dynamic aspects.

Daron Acemoğlu, Davide Ticchi , Andrea Vindigni, 16 June 2008

Encouraging democracy is one goal of most industrialised nations’ foreign economic policies. Formulating such policies requires an understanding of the political-economy logic governing democratic transitions. This column describes an important recent advance in theoretical thinking on the military’s role.

Antonio Ciccone, 28 February 2008

According to theory, demands for democratic change are more likely to be realised during economic downturns, which lower the cost of overthrowing autocrats. This column presents empirical evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa suggesting that recessions may indeed open a window of opportunity for democratisation.

Emmanuelle Auriol, Robert J. Gary-Bobo, 09 October 2007

Having too few members of parliament means parliament is likely to be un-representative, but it seems that having too many makes it easy for vested interests to buy influence. Simple logic suggests that the optimal number of MEPs should be proportional to the square root of the population. Empirical work suggests that nations with a much higher number of MEPs tend to be plagued by red-tape and corruption.

Emmanuelle Auriol, Robert J. Gary-Bobo, 06 August 2007

Arriving at the optimal number of representatives in a democracy involves a trade-off between the need to keep decision costs down (i.e. limiting the number of representatives involved in the decision-making process) and ensuring that the decisions made truly reflect the preferences of the citizens.

Guido Tabellini, 01 September 2005

Written in September 2005: There is much to celebrate in spreading democracy around the world, but the empirical evidence suggests that it is not very important for economic success. The clear positive wealth-democracy correlation seems to arise since democracy is more likely to persist as a country grows richer.



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