Friday, October 12, 2007

A Lecture on Democracy and Development

I gave an one-off lecture on democracy and development at the university today, partly based on my own research. Three takeaway messages are:

1. Be careful about the difference between correlation and causality. Comparing the average performances between democracies and autocracies does not tell you anything about whether democracy is better for development. We need to know, for example, how quickly the Chinese economy would grow if China was democratic. Which is impossible to observe.

2. The competitiveness of national leadership selection appears to be key for democracy to have a good impact on development. Other aspects of democracy such as human rights protection do not seem to matter much.

3. The flip side of democracy, or autocracy, is more heterogeneous than democracy. A simple comparison between democracy and autocracy is therefore misleading.

You can have a look at slides and figures that I used for the lecture. Technical details are kept at minimum.

For a succinct background reading for the lecture, check out the discussion between Daron Acemoglu at MIT and Ed Glaeser at Harvard on Wall Street Journal Online.

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