We explore the question of how political institutions and particularly democracy affect economic growth. Although empirical evidence of a positive effect of democracy on economic performance in the aggregate is weak, we provide evidence that democracy influences productivity growth in different sectors differently and that this differential effect may be one of the reasons of the ambiguity of the aggregate results. We provide evidence that political rights are conducive to growth in more advanced sectors of an economy, while they do not matter or have a negative effect on growth in sectors far away from the technological frontier. One channel of explanation goes through the beneficial effects of democracy and political rights on the freedom of entry in markets. Overall, democracies tend to have much lower entry barriers than autocracies, because political accountability reduces the protection of vested interests, and entry in turn is known to be generally more growth-enhancing in sectors that are closer to the technological frontier. We present empirical evidence that supports this entry explanation.
Advanced market economies are characterized by a continuous process of creative destruction. Market forces and technological developments play a major role in shaping this process, but institutional and policy settings also influence firms’ decision to enter, to expand if successful and to exit if competition becomes unbearable. In this paper, we focus on the effects of financial development on the entry of new firms and the expansion of successful new businesses. Drawing from harmonized firm-level data for 16 industrialized and emerging economies, we find that access to finance matters most for the entry of small firms and in sectors that are more dependent upon external finance. This finding is robust to controlling for other potential entry barriers (labor market regulations and entry regulations). On the other hand, financial development has either no effect or a negative effect on entry by large firms. Access to finance also helps new firms expand if successful. Both private credit and stock market capitalization are important for promoting entry and post entry growth of firms. Altogether, these results suggest that, despite significant progress over the past decade, many countries, including those in Continental Europe, should improve their financial markets so as to get the most out of creative destruction, by encouraging the entry of new (especially small) firms and the post-entry growth of successful young businesses.
This paper develops a framework to analyze the relationship between the diffusion of new technologies and the decentralization of firms. Centralized control relies on the information of the principal, which we equate with publicly available information. Decentralized control, on the other hand, delegates authority to a manager with superior information. However, the manager can use her informational advantage to make choices that are not in the best interest of the principal. As the available public information about the specific technology increases, the trade-off shifts in favor of centralization. We show that firms closer to the technological frontier, firms in more heterogeneous environments and younger firms are more likely to choose decentralization. Using three datasets of French and British firms in the 1990s, we report robust correlations consistent with these predictions.
This paper studies the choice of electoral rules, in particular the question of minority representation. Majorities tend to disenfranchise minorities through strategic manipulation of electoral rules. With the aim of explaining changes in electoral rules adopted by US cities (particularly in the South), we show why majorities tend to adopt ”winner-take-all” city-wide rules (at-large elections) in response to an increase in the size of the minority when the minority they are facing is relatively small. In this case, for the majority it is more effective to leverage on its sheer size instead of risking to concede representation to voters from minority-elected districts. However, as the minority becomes larger (closer to a fifty-fifty split), the possibility of losing the whole city induces the majority to prefer minority votes to be confined in minority-packed districts. Single-member district rules serve this purpose. We show empirical results consistent with these implications of the model in a novel data set covering US cities and towns from 1930 to 2000.
How does firm entry affect innovation incentives and productivity growth in incumbent firms? Micro-data suggests that there is heterogeneity across industries - incumbents in technologically advanced industries react positively to foreign firm entry, but not in laggard industries. To explain this pattern, we introduce entry into a Schumpeterian growth model with multiple sectors which differ by their distance to the technological frontier. We show that technologically advanced entry threat spurs innovation incentives in sectors close to the technological frontier - successful innovation allows incumbents to prevent entry. In laggard sectors it discourages innovation - increased entry threat reduces incumbents' expected rents from innovating. We find that the empirical patterns hold using rich micro-level productivity growth and patent panel data for the UK, and controlling for the endogeneity of entry by exploiting the large number of policy reforms undertaken during the Thatcher era.
This paper offers empirical evidence that real exchange rate volatility can have a significant impact on long-term rate of productivity growth, but the effect depends critically on a country's level of Önancial development. For countries with relatively low levels of financial development, exchange rate volatility generally reduces growth, whereas for Önancially advanced countries, there is no significant effect. Our empirical analysis is based on an 83 country data set spanning the years 1960-2000; our results appear robust to time window, alternative measures of Önancial development and exchange rate volatility, and outliers. We also o§er a simple monetary growth model in which real exchange rate uncertainty exacerbates the negative investment effects of domestic credit market constraints. Our approach delivers results that are in striking contrast to the vast existing empirical exchange rate literature, which largely Önds the effects of exchange rate volatility on real activity to be relatively small and insignificant.
This paper uses yearly panel data on OECD countries to analyze the relationship between growth and the cyclicality of government debt. We develop new time-varying estimates of the cyclicality of public debt. Our main findings can be summarized as follows: (i) less procyclical public debt growth can have significantly positive effects on productivity growth, in particular when financial development is lower; (ii) public debt growth has become increasingly countercyclical in most OECD countries over the past twenty years, but this trend has been less pronounced in the EMU; (iii) less financially developed or more open economies display less countercyclical public debt growth.
We examine the contribution of human capital to economy-wide technological improvements through the two channels of innovation and imitation. We develop a theoretical model showing that skilled labor has a higher growth-enhancing effect closer to the technological frontier under the reasonable assumption that innovation is a relatively more skill-intensive activity than imitation. Also, we provide evidence in favor of this prediction using a panel dataset covering 19 OECD countries between 1960 and 2000 and explain why previous empirical research had found no positive relationship between initial schooling level and subsequent growth in rich countries. In particular, we show that in OECD economies it is crucial to isolate the two separate margins of primary/secondary and tertiary education. Interestingly, the latter type of schooling proves to be a factor of economic divergence.
In this lecture, we use Schumpeterian growth theory, where growth comes from quality- improving innovations, to elaborate a theory of growth policy and to explain the growth gap between Europe and the US. Our theoretical apparatus systematizes the case-by-case approach to growth policy design. The emphasis is on three policy areas that are potentially relevant for growth in Europe, namely: competition and entry, education, and macropolicy. We argue that higher entry and exit (higher firm turnover) and increased emphasis on higher education are more growth enhancing in countries that are closer to the technological frontier. We also argue that countercyclical budgetary policies are more growth-enhancing in countries with lower financial development. The analysis thus points to important interaction effects between policies and state variables, such as distance to frontier or financial development, in growth regressions. Finally, we argue that the other endogenous growth models, namely the AK and product variety models, fail to account for the evidence on the relationship between competition, education, volatility and growth, and consequently cannot deliver relevant policy prescriptions in the three areas we consider.
We examine how credit constraints affect the cyclical behavior of productivity-enhancing investment and thereby volatility and growth. We first develop a simple growth model where firms engage in two types of investment: a short-term one and a long-term productivity-enhancing one. Because it takes longer to complete, long-term investment has a relatively less procyclical return but also a higher liquidity risk. Under complete financial markets, long-term investment is countercyclical, thus mitigating volatility. But when firms face tight credit constraints, long-term investment turns procyclical, thus amplifying volatility. Tighter credit therefore leads to both higher aggregate volatility and lower mean growth for a given total investment rate. We next confront the model with a panel of countries over the period 1960-2000 and find that a lower degree of financial development predicts a higher sensitivity of both the composition of investment and mean growth to exogenous shocks, as well as a stronger negative effect of volatility on growth.