The Comparative Economic Performance of Dictatorship

Start writing your answer after the instructions. Note you can use headers to organize your answer, and do not be afraid to edit other people's writing. This is a wiki! Also, you can use the Discussion page to hash out disagreements.

Are dictatorships more or less likely than democracy to systematically produce broad-based prosperity? Is there some type of dictatorship that is systematically more likely than democracy to produce broad-based prosperity for people? If such dictatorships exist, are the costs of their good performance performance worth the benefits?

Instructions

  1. Define your terms: democracy vs. non-democracy. Do not simply use the dictionary; make use of some of the sources in our course bibliography (e.g., here and here, among others). Since there is more than one way of defining democracy be sure to provide some justification for your definition.
  2. What are the facts? Are democracies, on average, wealthier than non-democracies? (by what measures?) Do democracies, on average, grow faster than non-democracies? (by what measures?) Do democracies, on average, provide more equitable growth than non-democracies? Is their economic performance less volatile? Are there particular kinds of dictatorships that seem to be more successful than others at providing economic prosperity? Charts, graphs, and maps are very useful - this is a wiki, not an essay. (There is a lot of nice free software out there, like Tableau Public, that can help you produce nice visualizations using data and produce interactive graphs). Let me know if you want help with data processing tasks.
  3. What is the theory? Are there theoretical reasons to expect that (some) dictatorships will do economically better/worse than (some) democracies?
  4. The question of the relative economic performance of democracies and non-democracies is hugely controversial. For example, though most democracies seem to be wealthier than non-democracies (by most measures), it may be that wealth causes democracy rather than the other way around. Your basic task is to summarize the evidence one way or the other, and determine what the best case seems to be.
  5. But you may also want to look at the "tails" of the distribution - those dictatorships that are very wealthy, or that grow economically very fast - and figure out whether there is something in common to all of them: maybe some specific kinds of dictatorship are more successful than most. Or you might wish to look in-depth at some particular case of an economically succesful non-democracy (e.g., Singapore, China after the reforms of the late 1970s, South Korea under Park, Taiwan under the KMT, Chile under Pinochet) and argue that they could have attained greater economic success (or lesser) under democracy.
  6. If you argue that some form of dictatorship can provide greater economic success, you need to consider whether these economic benefits really outweigh the costs of dictatorship - in repression, etc.

Resources

  1. There are lots of articles in the bibliography that might be useful: see here and here for starters. The bibliography is not comprehensive; if you find something worth adding there, let me know or add it yourself.


Start writing here - do not delete the instructions. Note you can use headers to organize your answer, and do not be afraid to edit other people's writing. This is a wiki! Also, you can use the Discussion page to hash out disagreements.