hero working papers

Democratic capital: The nexus of political and economic change

Number: 308
Year: 2006
Author(s): Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini

We study the joint dynamics of economic and political change. Predictions of the simple model that we formulate in the paper get
considerable support in a panel of data on political regimes and GDP per capita for about 150 countries over 150 years. Democratic cap-
ital - measured by a nation's historical experience with democracy and by the incidence of democracy in its neighborhood - reduces the
exit rate from democracy and raises the exit rate from autocracy. In democracies, a higher stock of democratic capital stimulates growth
in an indirect way by decreasing the probability of a sucessful coup. Our results suggest a virtuous circle, where the accumulation of phys-
ical and democratic capital reinforce each other, promoting economic development jointly with the consolidation of democracy.