La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Quick update on the Midwest paper. The results look good, and the write-up is underway. Essentially, the work progresses in three parts.

First: Spending and political regime type (the fancy way we political scientists refer to the difference between democracies and authoritarian regimes): Theory says that democracies should spend more on social programs on average because the median voter in a democracy demands more social spending than the (hypothetical) median voter in an authoritarian regime. This is one instance where a political scientist has come up with a cool formal model to demonstrate this relationship. See the new book by Carles Boix (just how do you pronounce that, anyway?). My results suggest that democracies do spend more on average on social programs.

At the same time, however, broad literatures suggest that authoritarian regimes are able to implement adjustment policies, structural reforms, etc. more easily than democratic regimes. Variants of this argument usually make general references to the fact that democratic governments have to respond to voters and special interests, while authoritarian governments can just repress dissident voices. Another way to think about this is in terms of veto players. While authoritarian governments are not always unitary actors (i.e., there might be junta or divisions between the army and navy), the number of veto players and their ideological distance from one another are usually going to be fewer and smaller than the veto players and ideological distances in democracies. All this is inspired, in part, by that book by G. Tsebelis that I was telling you about the other day.

So....presumably if adjustments need to be made to the amount of money that is being spent on education, health care or social security in order to enhance the competitiveness of a country's economy, an authoritarian regime would be able to take more definite or deliberate action to make those adjustments. That is, authoritarian regimes (b/c they have fewer veto players and the ideological distances among those that make up government are likely to be small) should "respond" to globalization pressures more dramatically than democracies. My results support this interpretation, too.

Though democracies, on average, spend more than authoritarian regimes on social globalization increases (especially trade integration), authoritarian regimes begin to outspend democratic regimes. I have a really nice graph to depict this. Maybe some day I'll figure out a way to post it here.

But that's just part 1. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

In the mean time, I have to go to class and collect papers. My kiddos are proposing institutional reforms that will turn around Latin America's economic development. I'll let you know what they think.

posted by Michelle @ 1:51 PM,


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