Thursday, May 19, 2011

Growth in Non-Democracies

Easterly has told us three stories about why we see more variance in growth among countries ruled by dictators (which I have been a touch slow about getting to):
  1. Growth in autocracies is about the benevolence of the dictator. That varies a lot, so growth in autocracies varies more than in democracies.
  2. Countries with autocracies have worse statisticians. The larger errors in measuring growth lead to greater variance in growth. “Next time you are praising an autocrat for a glorious growth record, remember you may really just be praising an incompetent statistician.”
  3. “One plausible story is that collectivist values evolve in highly volatile environments in which people long for collective insurance mechanisms — like the family/clan/nation coercing the most successful members of the family/clan/nation to sacrifice their rewards for everyone else. In safer environments (those on the right in the graph), it’s easier for individuals to assert their rights and responsibility to fend for themselves and keep the rewards of their own efforts.”
Speaking of growth in governments that are different from the West’s, why the backlash against China’s investment in Africa, according to The Economist the top two reasons are
  • disguised protectionism: “The recent arrival of Chinese traders in the grimy alleys of Soweto market in Lusaka halved the cost of chicken. Cabbage prices dropped by 65%. Local traders soon marched their wire-mesh cages filled with livestock to the local competition commission to complain.”
  • Concerns about corruption; “International rankings of bribe-payers list Chinese managers near the top.”

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