Africa is largely agrarian and the performance of agriculture shapes the performance of its economies. It has long been argued that economic development in Africa is strongly conditioned by politics. Recent changes in Africa’s political systems enables us to test this argument and, by extension, broader claims about the impact of political institutions on economic development. Building on a recent analysis of total factor productivity growth in African agriculture, we find that the introduction of competitive presidential elections in the last decades of the 20th Century appears to have altered political incentives, resulting in policy reforms that have enhanced the performance of farmers.
We revisit Lipset’s law, which posits a positive and significant relationship between income and democracy. Using dynamic and heterogeneous panel data estimation techniques, we find a significant and negative relationship between income and democracy: higher/lower incomes per capita hinder/trigger democratization. We thus challenge the recent empirical literature that found no such significant relationship. We attribute this result to the nature of the tax base, and exploit additional sources of heterogeneity. Decomposing overall income per capita into its resource and non-resource components, we find that the coefficient on the latter is positive and significant while that on the former is significant but negative.
After briefly reviewing the new institutionalism, this article uses the history of political reform in Africa to test its key tenet: that power, if properly organized, is a productive resource. It does so by exploring the relationship between changes in political institutions and changes in economic performance, both at the macro- and the micro-level. The evidence indicates that political reform (Granger) causes increases in GDP per capita in the African subset of global data. And, at the micro-level, it demonstrates that changes in national political institutions in Africa strongly relate to changes in total factor productivity in agriculture.
Africa experienced a wave of democratization over the past 20 years and this increase in democracy, we find, positively and significantly affects income per capita. Our dynamic panel data results suggest that countries only slowly converge to their long-run income values as predicted by current democracy levels, however: African countries may therefore be currently too democratic relative to their income levels. In keeping with this possibility, a significant number of countries experience political ‘back sliding’: elections are won by the use of illicit tactics, term limits on political leaders have been overturned and there have been unconstitutional seizures of power.
Using data from the last 150 years in a small set of countries, and from the postwar period in a large set of countries, we show that large investments in state primary education systems tend to occur when countries face military rivals or threats from their neighbors. By contrast, we find that democratic transitions are negatively associated with education investments, while the presence of democratic political institutions magnifies the positive effect of military rivalries. These empirical results are robust to a number of statistical concerns and continue to hold when we instrument military rivalries with commodity prices or rivalries in a certain country’s immediate neighborhood. We also present historical case studies, as well as a simple model, that are consistent with the econometric evidence.
We identify the major public debt overhang episodes in the advanced economies since the early 1800s, characterized by public debt to GDP levels exceeding 90 percent for at least five years. Consistent with Reinhart and Rogoff (2010) and most of the more recent research, we find that public debt overhang episodes are associated with lower growth than during other periods. The duration of the average debt overhang episode is perhaps its most striking feature. Among the 26 episodes we identify, 20 lasted more than a decade. The long duration belies the view that the correlation is caused mainly by debt buildups during business cycle recessions. The long duration also implies that the cumulative shortfall in output from debt overhang is potentially massive. These growth-reducing effects of high public debt are apparently not transmitted exclusively through high real interest rates, as in eleven of the episodes, interest rates are not materially higher.
Drawing on the research and experience of fifteen internationally recognized Latin America scholars, this insightful text presents an overview of inter-American relations during the first decade of the twenty-first century. This unique collection identifies broad changes in the international system that have had significant affects in the Western Hemisphere, including issues of politics and economics, the securitization of U.S. foreign policy, balancing U.S. primacy, the wider impact of the world beyond the Americas, especially the rise of China, and the complexities of relationships between neighbors.Contemporary U.S.-Latin American Relations focuses on the near-neighbors of the United States—Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean and Central America—as well as the larger countries of South America - including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Each chapter addresses a country’s relations with the United States, and each considers themes that are unique to that country’s bilateral relations as well as those themes that are more general to the relations of Latin America as a whole. This cohesive and accessible volume is required reading for Latin American politics students and scholars alike.
Latin America has been one of the critical areas in the study of comparative politics. The region’s experiments with installing and deepening democracy and promoting alternative modes of economic development have generated intriguing and enduring empirical puzzles. In turn, Latin America’s challenges continue to spawn original and vital work on central questions in comparative politics: about the origins of democracy; about the relationship between state and society; about the nature of citizenship; about the balance between state and market.
The richness and diversity of the study of Latin American politics makes it hard to stay abreast of the developments in the many sub-literatures of the field. The Routledge Handbook of Latin American Politics offers an intellectually rigorous overview of the state of the field and a thoughtful guide to the direction of future scholarship. Kingstone and Yashar bring together the leading figures in the study of Latin America to present extensive empirical coverage, new original research, and a cutting-edge examination of the central areas of inquiry in the region.
Since achieving independence from Spain and establishing its first constitution in 1824, Mexico has experienced numerous political upheavals. The country's long and turbulent journey toward democratic, representative government has been marked by a tension between centralized, autocratic governments (historically depicted as a legacy of colonial institutions) and federalist structures. The years since Mexico's independence have seen a major violent social revolution, years of authoritarian rule, and, finally, in the past two decades, the introduction of a fair and democratic electoral process. Over the course of the thirty-one essays in The Oxford Handbook of Mexican Politics some of the world's leading scholars of Mexico will provide a comprehensive view of the remarkable transformation of the nation's political system to a democratic model. In turn they will assess the most influential institutions, actors, policies and issues in its current evolution toward democratic consolidation. Following an introduction by Roderic Ai Camp, sections will explore the current state of Mexico's political development; transformative political institutions; the changing roles of the military, big business, organized labor, and the national political elite; new political actors including the news media, indigenous movements, women, and drug traffickers; electoral politics; demographics and political attitudes; and policy issues.
In 2006, Felipe Calderón narrowly defeated Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s hotly contested presidential election. Mexico’s 2006 presidential race demonstrated the importance of contested elections in democratic consolidation. Consolidating Mexico’s Democracy is at once a close examination of this historic election and an original contribution to the comparative study of elections throughout the world.The contributors to this volume—preeminent scholars from the fields of political science and government—make use of extensive research data to analyze the larger issues and voter practices at play in this election. With their exclusive use of panel surveys—where individuals are interviewed repeatedly to ascertain whether they have changed their voter preference during an election campaign—the contributors gather rich evidence that uniquely informs their assessment of the impact of the presidential campaign and the voting views of Mexican citizens.
The contributors find that, regardless of the deep polarization between the presidential candidates, the voters expressed balanced and nuanced political views, focusing on the perceived competence of the candidates. The essays here suggest the 2006 election, which was only the second fully free and competitive presidential election allowed by the Mexican government, edged the country closer to the pattern of public opinion and voting behavior that is familiar in well-established democracies in North America and Western Europe.
Two decades ago affairs between the United States and Cuba had seen little improvement from the Cold War era. Today, U.S.–Cuban relations are in many respects still in poor shape, yet some cooperative elements have begun to take hold and offer promise for future developments. Illustrated by the ongoing migration agreement, professional military-to-military relations at the perimeter of the U.S. base near Guantánamo, and professional Coast Guard-Guardafrontera cooperation across the Straits of Florida, the two governments are actively exploring whether and how to change the pattern of interactions.
The differences that divide the two nations are real, not the result of misperception, and this volume does not aspire to solve all points of disagreement. Drawing on perspectives from within Cuba as well as those in the United States, Canada, and Europe, these authors set out to analyze contemporary policies, reflect on current circumstances, and consider possible alternatives for improved U.S.-Cuban relations. The resulting collection is permeated with both disagreements and agreements from leading thinkers on the spectrum of issues the two countries face—matters of security, the role of Europe and Latin America, economic issues, migration, and cultural and scientific exchanges in relations between Cuba and the United States. Each topic is represented by perspectives from both Cuban and non-Cuban scholars, leading to a resource rich in insight and a model of transnational dialogue.
Barack Obama’s galvanizing victory in 2008, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But the president quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. Here, noted political scientist Theda Skocpol surveys the political landscape and explores its most consequential questions: What happened to Obama’s “new New Deal”? Why have his achievements enraged opponents more than they have satisfied supporters? How has the Tea Party’s ascendance reshaped American politics?Skocpol’s compelling account rises above conventional wisdom and overwrought rhetoric. The Obama administration’s response to the recession produced bold initiatives—health care reform, changes in college loans, financial regulation—that promise security and opportunity. But these reforms are complex and will take years to implement. Potential beneficiaries do not readily understand them, yet the reforms alarm powerful interests and political enemies, creating the volatile mix of confusion and fear from which Tea Party forces erupted. Skocpol dissects the popular and elite components of the Tea Party reaction that has boosted the Republican Party while pushing it far to the right at a critical juncture for US politics and governance.Skocpol’s analysis is accompanied by contributions from two fellow scholars and a former congressman. At this moment of economic uncertainty and extreme polarization, as voters prepare to render another verdict on Obama’s historic presidency, Skocpol and her respondents help us to understand its triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.
Do democracies make more effective coercive threats? An inﬂuential
literature in international relations argues that democratic institutions allow leaders
to credibly signal their resolve in crises, thereby making their threats more likely to
work than threats by nondemocracies. This article revisits the quantitative evidence
for this proposition, which we call the “democratic credibility hypothesis,” and ﬁnds
that it is surprisingly weak. Close examination of the data sets most commonly used
to test this hypothesis reveals that they contain few successful democratic threats, or
indeed threats of any kind. Moreover, these data sets’ outcome variables do not properly measure the effectiveness of threats, and therefore yield misleading results. The
article then reassesses the democratic credibility hypothesis using the Militarized Compellent Threats data set, a new data set designed speciﬁcally to test hypotheses about
the effectiveness of coercive threats. The analysis indicates that threats from democracies are no more successful than threats from other states.
This article studies the effect of domestic observers deployed to reduce irregularities in voter registration in a new democracy, and in particular, the response of political parties’ agents to these observers. Because political parties operate over large areas and party agents may relocate away from observed registration centers, observers may displace rather than deter irregularities. We design and implement a large-scale two-level randomized field experiment in Ghana in 2008 taking into account these spillovers and find evidence for substantial irregularities: the registration increase is smaller in constituencies with observers; within these constituencies with observers, the increase is about one-sixth smaller on average in electoral areas with observers than in those without; but some of the deterred registrations appear to be displaced to nearby electoral areas. The finding of positive spillovers has implications for the measurement of electoral irregularities or analysis of data collected by observers.