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Tulane University

Electoral Institutions and Growth Volatility: Theory and Evidence

Electoral Institutions and Growth Volatility: Theory and Evidence
By CIPR Post Doc Sergio Béjar and Bumba Mukherjee
International Political Science Review published online 6 June 2011

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What accounts for the substantial variation in the temporal volatility of economic growth rates in democratic regimes? We claim that institutional differences between the majoritarian and proportional representation (PR) electoral systems explain why growth volatility is high in some democracies, but not others. Specifically, we suggest that unlike PR democracies, the pronounced career concerns of policymakers in majoritarian systems give them incentives to use their discretionary spending power to alter government spending levels sharply, which generates higher spending volatility in these countries. ?As a result, policymakers in majoritarian systems cannot credibly commit themselves to stabilizing spending levels. This causes uncertainty among economic actors about future spending levels and leads to unstable investment patterns that generate a higher volatility of growth rates in majoritarian democracies. Results from statistical models provide robust statistical support for our theoretical predictions.